PepsiCo Foundation to Expand U.S. Food Aid Program Globally
As the pandemic began, the need for food that Jaron Barganier’s nonprofit provides to children in Texas skyrocketed.
Not only have many children lost the free breakfasts and lunches they normally received in their schools, which have been closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, Barganier’s nonprofit, Be a Champion, lost its access to these schools – and, more importantly for the food supply, their fridges and freezers – as distribution centers.
With demand more than tripling to around 100,000 meals a day, Barganier turned to Food for Good at the PepsiCo Foundation for help.
âThey basically created a way for us to serve our kids on the outside,â said Barganier, CEO of Be a Champion. âWhen they learned that some of these families didn’t even have access to refrigeration at home, they created a menu of shelf-stable products. “
The PepsiCo Foundation says that in growing its Food For Good program across America, it has focused on meeting the needs of individual communities. And he plans to continue on that path as he expands Food For Good around the world, hoping to feed 50 million people by 2030.
Jon Banner, president of the PepsiCo Foundation and executive vice president of global communications for PepsiCo, said the company and its philanthropic arm want to tackle the global food crisis, which has been severely exacerbated by the pandemic.
âAbout 800 million people around the world suffer from hunger,â Banner said. âIt’s a tragedy that doesn’t have to happen. We had made so much progress, but I think in one year the pandemic set us back 15 years. “
The PepsiCo Foundation has pledged $ 100 million in new initiatives for food security and sustainable agricultural development by 2030. It has also expanded its work with the United Nations World Food Program, pledging additional funds to create a partnership multi-country in the Middle East and North Africa. ensure food security for communities affected by climate change.
Like a growing number of companies, PepsiCo plans to donate its business know-how to nonprofits around the world, in addition to its cash. Banner said that PepsiCo’s agronomists and supply chain experts are working with farmers around the world to try to increase their crop yields and make them more sustainable, which benefits both businesses and to communities.
Exploitation of PepsiCo’s business knowledge for its foundation’s nonprofit partners will continue in the United States and internationally.
Silvia Cruz-Vargas, director of international programs at the PepsiCo Foundation, said the organization has similar goals in all of its markets.
âWe are talking about access to food security, access to water and access to economic opportunities as our three main pillars,â she said. âOne goes hand in hand when you are able to meet the most basic needs of the communities in which we live and work. “
The expansion of the Food For Good program globally will combine what the foundation has learned from its water access initiatives over the past 12 years with what it has learned in America through its food programs, said Cruz-Vargas. But one thing the foundation learned is that every community is different.
âThis does not mean that we are going to copy and paste a solution that is particularly relevant in North America in countries where it may not be applicable,â she said. âWe have an exceptional network of local partners who are anchored in the fabric of the communities in which we operate. “
Be a Champion’s Barganier said operational support from Food For Good has already pushed his nonprofit to expand into new areas.
Founded in 2001 to help disadvantaged youth in the Houston area, Be a Champion began with tutoring and after-school programs, as well as college outreach programs to introduce teens to college campus life. The association expanded to distribute food to students once it realized how many of them did not have enough to eat. This led to its partnership with PepsiCo’s Food for Good in 2015 and helped Be a Champion become the second largest nonprofit meal provider in Texas, delivering millions of meals each year.
With help from Food for Good, Barganier hopes to bring food to more communities in the Rio Grande Valley, as well as eastern Texas. But he also can’t wait to see the program spread across the world to help others.
âThey are going to be very successful globally because they have the ability to adapt,â said Barganier.
The Associated Press receives support from the Lilly Endowment for coverage of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations. The AP is solely responsible for all content. For all of AP’s philanthropic coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.