From North Vancouver to Baie Comeau across Canada, Cargill employees planned various activities around UN World Food Day on October 16 to help raise awareness among employees and their communities about the realities of lingering food insecurity in Canada.
Ensuring everyone has access to safe and nutritious food has been a long-time goal of Cargill's, but for too long the perception has remained that Canada is a food-secure country. The reality is that 2.7 million Canadians experience food insecurity at some point during the year. One in eight Canadian families struggle to put food on the table, and 833,098 Canadians used food banks in 2013, with 36.4% of those users being children.
"We've established strong partnerships across Canada and continue to seek out new ones with organizations that share our goal of a more food-secure world," said Jeff Vassart, President, Cargill Limited. "It's clear to us that there is a very real need in Canada, and we need to start with our own communities first. Our employees have really been the ones owning this initiative by supporting causes that most directly surround them. For example, our beef plant in High River, Alberta has had a monthly program in place for years now of donating fresh beef products to the food bank in High River and in Okotoks, and in Montreal, we're involved in supporting academic programing that teaches kids about sustainable agriculture in urban environments," Vassart added.
From food drives to harvesting gardens, donating time and dollars, and equipping food banks with new storage equipment, activities are underway not only on World Food Day, but throughout the year as hundreds of Cargill employees are supporting over 40 agencies in every province where Cargill has operations.
"Cargill has been a longstanding partner with Winnipeg Harvest in our goal to feed hungry people. As we work towards Goal 2020, which encompasses reducing the need for food bank use by half, job training our clients and empowering them to become self-sufficient, it is comforting to know that Cargill's support and efforts help us to continue to feed hungry families as well as to help us reach our goals by the end of the decade. Thank you Cargill for your commitment to Fighting Hunger and Feeding Hope," says David Northcott, executive director, Winnipeg Harvest.
Cargill says its initial goal for this year is to heighten internal awareness. "Seeing is believing," added Vassart. "Once our employees better understand the harsh challenges that families face when they don't have enough food to support themselves or their families, they'll have better insight as to how we can better work collaboratively to start seeing change happen."
By next year, Cargill aims to double the number of Cargill locations participating, providing organizations with more volunteer resources, fully stocking shelves in local food banks, seeing more dollars go into food security programming partner and putting more food on the table for Canadian families.