Kraft Heinz efforts to tackle global hunger underscore broader benefits of CSR

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

With an estimated one in three people suffering from malnutrition, the extent of hunger around the world is significant – but so too is the impact of investments in malnutrition prevention, such as those made this week in Washington, DC, by Kraft Heinz.

Executives and employees of the packaged food giant gathered on Capitol Hill with members of Congress, industry stakeholders and representatives from area embassies to package more than 16,000 meals to feed the hungry. The effort is part of Kraft Heinz’s larger commitment to donate 1 billion meals by 2021, and is an extension of the company’s three-prong corporate social responsibility program.

“The need is great. There are over 800 million people in the world who are hungry most of the time and the United Nations’ sustainability goal is by 2030 to eradicate hunger,”​ John Cahill, vice chairman of the board for Kraft Heinz, told FoodNavigator-USA.

He explains Kraft Heinz is doing its part by hosting events like the one in Washington May 15 where “several hundred people”​ gathered to pack “micro-nutrient sachets with soy, other nutrients and rice into sealed packages, which are sent around the world for families.”

To ensure the meals are delivered where they are needed most and in way that maximizes impact, Kraft Heinz partners with the hunger relief organization Rise Against Hunger.

“Rise Against Hunger has been around for a while and their sole focus is against eradicating hunger in the most needy parts of the world. They have done a phenomenal job and they are extremely efficient, which is why we like them,”​ Cahill explained.

It is also why Kraft Heinz donated $2.5 million to the organization this week so that it can continue its efforts with other companies as well.

CSR programs offer a competitive edge

While not the impetus for Kraft Heinz’s commitment and donation, CRS programs like this one can help companies gain a competitive edge by helping them earn legislators’ attention, appeal to increasingly socially conscious consumers and recruit top talent.

Cahill explained that Kraft Heinz packs and donates meals not because anyone on the board told the executive leadership to, but because the company has an expertise in the area. However, he acknowledged that “shareholders and other constituents are more interested in what companies are doing broadly in society and the environment.”

He also noted that CSR can help with recruitment as “the younger people joining us are looking to do more than make money and more than perhaps just have a career. They are looking to do good as well. And yes, they will more likely work with organizations that have that as an intent, and we do.”

While these benefits can help companies, Kraft Heinz ultimately donates meals not so that it can raise its profile but, Cahill said, because it is the right thing to do.

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