J.P. Bilbrey is Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer for The Hershey Company, the largest producer of quality chocolate in North America and a global leader in chocolate and sugar confectionery. More about Bilbrey below.
How can unleashing the skills and passion of your employees unlock the true value of citizenship?
Since Milton Hershey founded our company in the late 19th century, The Hershey Company has had a commitment to more than just making great-tasting products—we also have a long track record of helping children in need. Beginning with the creation of the Milton Hershey School in 1909, we have been dedicated to giving children from underprivileged backgrounds the skills, education, and support they need to build bright futures and lead successful lives.
We are proud of that history and the philanthropic values embedded in our company and its operations. Just as our company’s products and services have evolved and expanded over the past 120 years, our corporate citizenship efforts have also continued to progress.
A few years ago, I had the honor of meeting with the President of Ghana to discuss our long-standing partnership and Hershey Company investments in cocoa communities. During our conversation, I learned that while the work we are doing to support cocoa farmers and their families was important, the country also needed help with its school feeding program to provide basic nutrition to the children of Ghana. At that moment I realized we weren’t fully using the greatest asset our company has—the incredible passion and skills of our employees with world-class expertise in food science, agriculture, food production, logistics, and nutrition.
Hershey has long been about supporting children in need, including education, so this discussion sparked an idea.
Could we better focus our efforts to help children make the most of their education by providing energy and nourishment so children can focus on their studies rather than their stomachs?
Hershey has since designed a new global platform for our global corporate citizenship efforts that gives us not only a sharp focus, but unleashes the value of our employees’ unique knowledge and skills to add value that goes far beyond just donating money. This global initiative, what we like to call Nourishing Minds, provides basic nutrition to help children learn and grow.
The need for greater investment in nutrition worldwide is clear. Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45 percent) of deaths in children under five. Sixty-six million school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world—23 million in Africa alone. Investing in nutrition also has a strong return on investment, with every dollar spent bringing $15 in return, given the reduced health risk and improved long-term impact on the economy and earnings.