Every year Merriam-Webster, the word authority, expands its dictionary. The addition of new words not only reflects the evolution of the English language, but also signals when a topic has become mainstream or recognizable to the general public. This year, I took particular notice of one of those new words: food insecure. It’s an important recognition of the 50 million Americans who struggle every day to get adequate nutrition (Source USDA) including 13.1 million children (source Feeding America).
For those of us who work in this space, the issue of food insecurity has been a critical topic of conversation both in the U.S. and around the world. At Hershey, we have long recognized that while every child deserves a chance at a bright future, millions of kids around the world face a serious disadvantage – not because of their learning ability, but because they lack proper nutrition. We seek to address this through our shared social purpose Nourishing Minds. We are committed to provide kids in the United States and around the world with the basic nutrition they need to excel in life, whether it’s groundbreaking discoveries or become the next great leaders of tomorrow.
We work with partners to achieve two simple but challenging goals: deliver nutrition to kids while building more innovative food systems that make nutritious food more affordable and accessible. Sounds reasonable, right?
Through our partnership with Feeding America, we helped elementary schools start serving fresh milk and produce for the first time. We also are developing new ways for food banks to partner with these schools. We began a brand new program with Food Banks Canada called Food Explorers which is teaching basic, healthy cooking skills to school children. And in China, we modernized 11 school kitchens in Henan province where 1 in 4 kids are suffering from anemia.
Finally, in West Africa where Nourishing Minds originated, we are reducing rates of anemia and improving school attendance with our nutritional supplement called ViVi, which we provide to 50,000 school children every day.
We also are tackling some innovative food projects with entrepreneurs in various local communities to help make nutritious food more available to children through product development, manufacturing and distribution.
For many, it may just be a new word in the dictionary. But for me and those of us who are already passionate about this important work, I hope it marks an inflection point on the road to ensuring that every child has the nutrition they need every day to reach their full potential!
For more information visit www.nourishingminds.com