How General Mills Is Tackling the Global Food Crisis to Reach SDG #2: Zero Hunger

By Cassie Hodges
Aug 3, 2018 12:00 PM ET
Summary: 

Welcome to the Global Goals, Local Leaders series, where we highlight innovative American businesses that are acting as local leaders to support and promote the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – also called Global Goals!
 

Blog

We spoke with General Mills, a U.S. leader in promoting global food security and sustainable food production. Read how General Mills supports Sustainable Development Goal #2 Zero Hunger:

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #2 is Zero Hunger. How has / does General Mills increased global food security?

General Mills’ philanthropy in food security is strongly aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 2 of “Zero Hunger”, as well as SDG 12, “Responsible Consumption and Production”.  Our approach in food security is to strengthen systems at the local community as well as global levels via targeted investments in three key impact areas:

Expanding food access – Together with our nonprofit partners and local community members, we are taking aim at food deserts in and around our hometown communities to help ensure that all members of the community have access to a wide range of foods that meet their economic, nutritional and cultural needs.  We also provide food donations to our food bank network partners, in addition to grants from our Foundation and employee expertise to strengthen food bank networks that serve populations in more than 30 countries.  During the latest 12 month reporting period, food banks and other nonprofits supported by General Mills collectively enabled 1.8 billion meals for hungry people worldwide.

Unleashing the Power of Schools -- Knowing that schools can be one of the most powerful levers for increasing food security among children, we work to expand access to school meals around the world. In the U.S., Canada and U.K., our school meals work is focused on helping schools (predominantly serving children from low-income households) launch or expand breakfast programs to eliminate “missing meals.”   In India, China and Brazil, our work is focused on strengthening school feeding programs through projects that improve the capabilities of central school kitchens and/or increase the nourishment potential of the meals that schools are providing.

Ending Food Waste – Recognizing that more than one-third of all food that is grown and produced never gets eaten, we are working to eliminate the waste and loss of food all along the “farm to fork” continuum.  Working with a host of partners worldwide, include ReFED, the Global FoodBanking Network, Natural Resources Defense Council, Feeding America (US), FareShare (UK), and many others, we are catalyzing innovative programs that expand food rescue and recovery capabilities, so that the majority of surplus food can be directed to feeding hungry people, rather than going to landfills.

Our 2020 goals in food security include:

  • Enable or improve 250 million school meals globally for children facing food & nutrition insecurity
  • Empower 25,000 food retailers and food service operators with surplus food rescue solutions
  • Enable the rescue of 1 billion pounds of surplus food from retailers in the U.K. and North America
  • Enable 200 million meals for food insecure people through General Mills food donations

 

How does General Mills advance their mission to strengthen and advance communities through sustainable agriculture?

We leverage philanthropy to advance the sustainability of agriculture and support the conservation of natural resources around the world. Aligned with our company’s broader sustainability goals and commitments, we invest in NGO-led programs that strengthen the livelihoods of smallholder farmers from whom we source key ingredients. We also protect and expand pollinator habitats within our supply chain and contribute to initiatives that restore the earth’s watersheds and soil. We believe these actions have a sustaining benefit to society and the environment, while helping to ensure food producers will be able to feed a growing world well into the future.

With a strategic approach that combines a long-range view with the urgency of now, General Mills is implementing sustainable food and agricultural solutions across our business and food supply chain as well as through our philanthropic initiatives, led by General Mills Foundation. 

Our 2020 goals in sustainable agriculture include:

  • Improve the well-being and livelihoods of 30,000 people in smallholder farming communities from which General Mills sources cocoa and vanilla.
  • Make direct investments to advance water stewardship coalitions in at least 80% of General Mills’ priority watersheds.
  • Collaborate to engage 100+ farmers in adopting soil health best practices
  • Establish or restore 100,000 acres of pollinator-friendly habitat

Why is the goal of eliminating global hunger so important to General Mills? And how is General Mills teaching / equipping the next generation?

For more than 150 years, General Mills’ has lived its purpose to serve the world by making food people love. And as a company selling food in more than 100 countries around the world, we understand the powerful goodness that comes when families and entire communities are nourished and food secure. 

Our philanthropic work is aimed at supporting a thriving planet and flourishing communities and ties closely to our Company’s purpose and deep food systems knowledge.
 

With more than 800 million people worldwide struggling with hunger, a growing global population and climate change threatening agricultural production and livelihoods in many regions, we understand the critical importance of developing food system solutions today that will also serve future generations.

Recognizing that feeding the world and stewarding the precious natural resources that make food possible is an imperative of even more critical urgency moving forward, General Mills strongly believes in investing today in the next generation of food system leaders.

Our philanthropic support of two nonprofits that engage emerging student leaders from colleges and universities (The Campus Kitchens Project and the Food Recovery Network) has resulted in 125,000 young adult community leaders being directly engaged in operating hunger prevention and food waste reduction programs. During General Mills’ two decades of supporting these programs, more than 230 colleges and universities have launched campus based, student led, hunger and food waste fighting programs that serve the broader communities around these universities.

In 2017, we introduced our new scholars program, Feeding Better Futures, an initiative that launched to encourage bright young minds to share the programs they’ve launched in their communities that combat hunger and protect important agricultural resources. Through the program, we combine the fresh thinking of young innovators with General Mills’ ability to scale big ideas into big impact. In addition to monetary resources to grow these ideas, we provide mentoring experiences with top leaders in hunger relief and sustainability, which will be an invaluable experience for young people.

See below for information about the winner of the Feeding Better Futures scholars program.
 


What should consumers be on the lookout for next as General Mills continues its work to increase and promote food security?

At General Mills, we firmly believe in the power of collective impact – working together and working in new and different ways to bring about a greater good than we could otherwise do on our own.  We are incredibly inspired and emboldened by the significant impacts of many of our key partnerships and most recent initiatives in food security and agriculture.
 

Moving forward, look for General Mills to create and expand more of these innovative partnerships aimed at highly focused issue areas that are aligned to our priorities, such as reducing food waste globally and advancing farmer adoption of regenerative farm practices.

We will bring not only our charitable cash giving to these issues, but also the expertise, commitment and passion of our 38,000 General Mills employees around the globe.

In terms of under-estimated forces, we remain impressed and inspired by the incredible next generation of young people who are stepping up now as leaders and change-makers around the world’s food and agricultural issues and opportunities.  Don’t under-estimate them; even when they are taking action at a local level, these young leaders are thinking globally.  We see time after time, small steps lead to big ideas and even bigger impact. A case in point:

Our inaugural Feeding Better Futures grand prize winner is Katie Stagliano, Katie’s Krops: When Katie Stagliano was nine years old, she grew a 40-pound cabbage. Katie donated this cabbage to a food pantry where it fed 275 people. Katie was moved by the difference this made in her community, and decided to found Katie’s Krops, a program that empowers kids across the country to grow fresh produce locally to fight hunger in their communities. Katie, now 19, reviews applications from children 9-16 years old who would like to become “Growers.” Each year, Katie selects new “Growers” and provides them with funds, tools and access to growing resources. Today, there are more than 80 Katie's Krops gardens growing across the country and more are in the works. In 2017 alone, Katie’s Krops donated 39,000 pounds to soup kitchens, shelters, food banks and back pack programs. Stay tuned for information about the year two of Feeding Better Futures, which will spur more bright ideas from today’s youth to feed our growing population. www.feedingbetterfutures.com.

To learn more about General Mills charitable giving and corporate responsibility, please visit www.generalmills.com/Responsibility.

What to Watch: David Beasley, Executive Director of the United Nations’ World Food Programme, has a powerful message for Americans and UNA-USA members: each one of us has a role to play in combatting global hunger. Find out how you can support the UN’s lifesaving work by joining the UNA-USA movement: unausa.org/join