All Stakeholders at the Table

By Mary Ladd
Nov 6, 2019 12:45 PM ET
Article

Harvard University, known around the world as a hub for learning and sharing ideas, served as the ideal location for the first-ever Small Change, Big Impact Food Summit, a conference conceptualized, planned and presented by Hormel Foods and Harvard University Dining Services. The summit brought together leaders from many areas of the food world to work together toward a better food system and a healthier planet.

Over two days, this invitation-only summit offered panel discussions and presentations on food security, food waste, culinary arts, sustainability, the impact of foodservice, the future of food and farming, and agricultural innovation.

Co-creating the summit is yet another step on the path of Our Food Journey™ at Hormel Foods. Given the company’s role in helping to feed America and the world for over 125 years, our leaders are well aware of the challenges ahead. For example, by 2050, the world’s population will have grown to approximately 10 billion people. Meeting the challenge of feeding everyone well and sustainably will require foresight, continuous innovation and the ability to work with all stakeholders in an interconnected food system through an open and productive dialogue.

Jim Snee, president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Hormel Foods, opened the conference.

“It’s so much more powerful when you do things together, cooperatively, collaboratively,” he said. “We’re doing great things as an organization, but hearing what’s happening in other parts of the food world is incredibly powerful. The passion, the journey, the stories from so many different individuals and their commitment to doing the right thing tell me that this summit is the right thing to do.”

Chefs, CEOs, industry leaders and change agents from academia, exciting start-ups, foodservice, food pro- ducers and nonprofits gathered at the summit, with the shared goal of fostering constructive dialogue, exploring case-study insights and forging new collaborations toward an improved food future.

Gina Asoudegan, vice president of mission and innovation for Applegate, attends many industry events and trade shows. Yet she found the summit uniquely valuable because it allowed her to hear from a variety of stakeholders who aren’t often in same room.

“It’s rare in our everyday lives that we’re exposed to a variety of perspectives on a particular issue,” said Asoudegan. “I work for a food company and am around people in that world. I’m not necessarily engaging on a daily basis with farmers or with policymakers or other parts of the supply chain.”

“Food really is that common bond,” Snee said. “It brings people together. It is woven in all walks of life and it’s going to be critically important, as it has been in the past.”

Snee also shared why Hormel Foods wanted to help bring this summit to life, acknowledging how important stories can be.

“There’s so much good that’s happening. We need to tell our story at events like the summit, because story- telling is incredibly powerful.”

Explore the Summit