Solutions to Food Insecurity: Feeding America & Plexus Worldwide

December 05, 2019

I have had the great pleasure throughout my career of working with corporations that believe in giving back. Plexus is no exception; in fact, Plexus’ approach to giving back is one solution to food insecurity that is rather innovative and highly impactful. In its first year, Plexus’ Nourish One™ initiative helped provide more than 10 million meals* to Feeding America® and has big goals set for year two. That’s a lot of lives impacted - not just those on the receiving end, but those on the giving end, too.

What is Feeding America?

My experience with companies who give back is that they are most significant when the company and its leaders really stand behind the cause and have a connection to the solution. When someone relates to my story or they empathize with my story, chances are it will stick with them, it may even move them. That is what Feeding America is so good at. They are our local heroes and our local food pantries and they put faces to the crisis so that we can’t ignore it. When food scarcity is a headline on the global news, it’s easier to ignore than when it’s your next-door neighbor.

If you haven’t gotten to know my story by now, you may not know about my family’s early struggles with putting food on the table. My hard-working lineage paved the path I am walking on now, with the support of food pantries along the way. The fact that Feeding America exists is a big deal to me as someone who understands what it is like to wonder when you’ll have your next meal. As a child, this type of burden and stress is immeasurable. It undoubtedly has long-term impacts on people and research shows it also has short-term impacts on health, concentration, and overall health and wellbeing.

Feeding America’s Programs

More than just having food pantries to depend on, Feeding America’s programs like their Food Rescue Program promote a dignified, safe, and effort-preserving alternative to searching for discarded (yet edible) food. These are life-changing measures and a life-changing network that Feeding America has created - and I have dedicated my life to changing lives. The fit with Feeding America couldn’t be more meaningful, and therefore more impactful.

But the reality is that our neighbors are hungry, and Feeding America understands that hunger and food scarcity is a lot closer to home than we think. They also understand that if food scarcity problems feel like a world away, they will be easier to ignore. The unfortunate truth is that 37 million people in the U.S. face hunger, including more than 11 million children. These people are our friends, our neighbors, our classmates, our coworkers, our kids’ playmates, our community. The unexpected can happen. A parent loses a job, a spouse gets sick, a grandchild moves in - the good news is Feeding America has a local resource nearby to help. Feeding America member food banks are a dependable, local answer to our national hunger problem.

When you support Feeding America, you are helping their nationwide network of member food banks deliver programs at the front line of hunger. Programs like school-based food pantries, emergency disaster relief, and Kids’ Cafe can make a world of difference for your neighbors, and maybe even for you.

It is a blessing to be able to support the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization and network. As an organization, Feeding America works to connect people who can help with people in need. Sending a kid to school on an empty stomach does not set them up to thrive like they deserve. Feeding America gets that. When parents can worry less because they can count on their local food pantry, it’s a solution that everyone can get behind.

We need to help more kids have less worry about their next meal. The goal behind Feeding America’s corporate partnerships is that consumers can consciously spend their money with corporations who commit to giving back, too. It’s not a brand-new model by any means; spending with the brands you stand behind has always been a pillar of modern, mindful consumerism. Companies who commit to causes like child hunger-relief are companies that you can feel good about supporting.

Feeding America member food banks do more than just feed hungry kids and adults. These food banks are resources that provide education, outreach, and programming for families to learn about the relationship between food and wellness, food budgeting, and more. By helping families who struggle with food security meet other basic needs as well (like housing, employment, health care, etc.), Feeding America helps to address the root issues and causes of hunger. Plus, not only does Feeding America help provide a solution on the front lines of hunger through food banks and community resources, it also works to end hunger for good by advocating and lobbying on behalf of Americans at the federal and state levels. It’s no wonder Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization; many individuals, families and corporations have joined forces in the cause to help end hunger for good.

Now, Feeding America is a fantastic partner in the corporate responsibility and philanthropy spaces, but not every partner easily achieves the kind of contribution Plexus Charities has achieved so far, much less in their first year. Our Ambassadors and Customers truly gave the platform its legs to stand - and run - on! As we introduced not only Nourish One but Feeding America to our Ambassadors in 2018, our field was immediately on board and sharing the good news. Day by day we watched the counter tick up more and more meals provided - something we could collectively celebrate and appreciate as One Plexus. One or two meals can make a really big difference to one or two people. Five million meals makes a HUGE difference to a lot of people. Our cumulative effort is projected to hit ten million meals soon, with special thanks to our Ambassadors and our Customers for their support every shake … or step of the way!

The first meals meant the world to me - and so have the other millions since. In our first year with Feeding America, I learned many lessons along the way. Here are five of my favorites:

  1. There is a big difference between a food pantry and a food bank. Feeding America gets this question a lot, so they’ve even blogged about it! Here’s the gist: a food bank is more of a warehouse or distribution center that serves as a centralized holding location, whereas a food pantry is a place that directly serves people in need. The food banks provide food to the food pantries. From mobile pantries to permanent locations, food pantries depend on the support of the food banks in the Feeding America network.

  2. Reducing food waste can actually help end hunger with Feeding America’s Food Rescue program. By some estimates, nearly half of the food grown and produced in the United States goes to waste. That is a tremendous problem in the face of food insecurity. It means our answer to hunger isn’t necessarily to increase production, but rather to more efficiently allocate our existing resources. Feeding America’s approach to food waste is a smart, sustainable, and innovative method, but it needs more people power to make even more of an impact. Learn how you can get on board. Plus, check out how some companies are putting their best foot forward.

  3. Feeding America believes in helping people connect the dots between hunger and health. It’s important to Feeding America to “educate, connect and engage cross-sector professionals on the intersections of food insecurity, nutrition and health,” so they created a website dedicated to that purpose. Explore recipes, research and other information that explains hunger’s connection to health and how every American is impacted.

  4. Our Latino and Hispanic communities are struggling with hunger at a much higher rate. One in six Latino households struggles with hunger. Despite being more likely to be in the labor force and employed, Latinos experience higher food-insecurity rates than the general population. Learn more about how Feeding America is dedicated to supporting this at-risk population.

  5. There is a lot people don’t know about hunger. Including the fact that most people who face hunger are not unemployed nor homeless - in fact, most of the households Feeding America serves are not homeless and have at least one working adult. You can brush up on hunger myths with Feeding America.

Our first year of partnership with Feeding America far exceeded our expectations and we’re looking forward to Leaning in to our next year - expanding our Lean line of products, the fantastic Plexus shake that powers Nourish One and provides a meal to a person in need for every serving purchased.+ We look forward to seeing how many more millions of lives we can touch in this next year of partnership with Feeding America - from our amazing Volunteer Time Off that our corporate One Plexus family can take advantage of to volunteer in a Feeding America food bank to our donations to Feeding America through our Nourish One initiative, and beyond! And, a big thank you to everyone who has been a part of this path to 10 million meals so far - we couldn’t have done it without you!

*$1 helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local member food banks.

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