Since launching our shared social purpose, Nourishing Minds, in 2015, we have been working hard to provide children with the nutrition they need to learn and grow. India, an important market for The Hershey Company, has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition globally. Nearly half of all deaths of children under five years of age can be attributed to malnourishment. In addition, 47 million adolescents in India have not progressed to upper or secondary school – either never attending or dropping out – a worrisome trend limiting our younger generation’s potential for growth and prosperity. As we work to expand our Nourishing Minds programming to India, we wanted to leverage the unique skills and capabilities we have as a company, while also building partnerships that bring complementary expertise and ultimately greater impact.
Every year, hundreds of Hershey employees around the world spend time volunteering in their local communities during our global week of service. Rise Against Hunger, a nonprofit organization that distributes food to vulnerable populations globally, has been a key partner in our efforts. In 2016, our India team held its first ever Rise Against Hunger meal packing event, providing 10,000 meals to local children. In 2017, we will reach even greater numbers of children through two events – in our home office of Mumbai and with employees at our manufacturing facility in Mandideep. We recognize the critical role of emergency food relief in addressing acute hunger issues and our employees are proud to partner with Rise Against Hunger.
We are also excited to announce two new partnerships that are helping us address the unique nutritional needs of young children ages 0-5 as well as school-age children. First, we are proud to support the United Way of Mumbai’s Project Poshan, which will provide a nutritional supplement uniquely catered to the needs of children under six who are suffering from severe malnutrition. By coordinating with India’s Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) and local anganwadis (health workers), this year-long project will not only help children get the nutrition they need, but will also play an important role in building local infrastructure for delivering nutrition.
In addition, we’re excited to partner with Annamrita, the largest provider of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in Maharashtra. As an organization, Annamrita stands out for their high quality, safe and healthy meals as well as their highly efficient, centralized kitchens which deliver more than 1,200,000 meals to school-children every day. Together, these efforts will allow us to address the specific nutritional needs of children as they learn and grow throughout school.
Finally, we are eager to use our product expertise in areas like portable soy-based protein to explore how we can deliver nutrition at scale. Building on our philanthropic partnership with Annamrita, we are working on a baseline study of the nutritional needs of children in slum-schools in Maharashtra. This study will inform the development of a nutritional snack that will be distributed to the children and provide data on the impact of the snack on a variety of nutritional and educational indicators. While we are just at the beginning of this journey, we are excited to explore the potential for snack products that deliver nutrition to those that need it most.
At Hershey, we believe every child deserves an equal chance in life. But, children’s minds can’t be filled with knowledge when their stomachs are empty. We’re proud to be playing a small role in helping children across India reach their full potential.
I invite you to learn more how we are engaging communities and nourishing minds by taking a glance at our new CSR Report.
 United Way Mumbai