By: Kim Fortunato, Director of Campbell’s Healthy Communities
There’s something very powerful about food—it has the ability to connect people from all walks of life. It’s fundamental to our survival, especially to those who don’t have adequate access to nutritious food where they live. As a food company, we believe we have a duty to give back to the communities where we live and work. This is especially true in places where it’s difficult to get access to good food.
Today, I’m excited to share that our CEO Denise Morrison announced plans to improve the health of young people in Metro Detroit by helping to reduce childhood hunger and obesity through our Healthy Communities program.
What better way to live our purpose, Real food that matters for life’s moments, than sharing our expertise in food and nutrition to help children live healthier lives.
And this isn’t our first platform. We’re modeling the program after our community work in our hometown of Camden, N.J., where we launched the program in 2011. Since then our Healthy Communities work has grown to other regions where Campbell operates including Henry County, Ohio; Everett, Washington; and Norwalk, Connecticut.
Building a Healthy Community takes a partnership with a shared goal
Data plays a key role in helping us understand the current needs and resources in the community — and it’s a big job. We work across areas of academia, government and the private sector to address a complex social issue. Our program uses a three-part approach with program sites: schools, a food access portal and a healthcare partner site.
Once we identify our sites, we select partners with expertise in cooking, nutrition education food access and community engagement. The sites work with our partners to build programs that best address the needs of the children in their schools and communities as we build a culture of health together.
Our Metro Detroit community will start by working with one school in each of Oakland and Wayne Counties: Roosevelt Primary School, a K-2 school in Ferndale, and Neinas Dual Language Learning Academy, a K-6 school in Detroit.
The program will fund school gardens, mobile food pantries, nutrition education and cooking classes. Campbell will also work closely with Detroit Public Schools to support their existing nutrition programs and will partner with other community organizations.
For its first year, we are not only providing dedicated Campbell resources and expertise on the ground, but we’re also investing $125,000 in Campbell’s Healthy Communities Metro Detroit. Our work right now is focused on selecting partner organizations, both nationally and in Detroit,that will receive funding. We plan to finalize the program before the start of the 2016-2017 school year.
We’re proud of the work we’ve done so far, and we know we can’t do it alone – we’re looking forward to working with many organizations throughout Metro Detroit’s food economy to make this Healthy Community a strong one.