PLANO, TEXAS — Through its “Food for Good” initiative, PepsiCo has served 2,813,055 meals to impoverished inner-city communities since 2009. The program attempts to create scalable, breakeven solutions that address nutrition issues in these poverty-stricken communities by providing summer and afterschool meal programs.
The need for this program is great. According to Share Our Strength, nearly one in five children in the United States struggle with hunger, and only one in seven eligible children receive free summer meals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 23 million Americans live in a “food desert.” A food desert is an area where healthy and nutritious food is difficult to obtain.
“When the school year ends, and most school cafeterias close for the summer, underserved children still need a nutritious lunch — and that’s where Food for Good plays a vital role in each of the communities we serve,” said Matt Smith, senior manager of PepsiCo Food for Good.
Since launching the initial pilot, Food for Good has delivered more than 11 million servings and created more than 100 summer jobs.
PepsiCo utilizes its unique capabilities with tools to address all forms of distribution. The program sends out trucks on the equivalent of a bus route to apartments, community centers, etc. and distributes nutritious, U.S.D.A.-standard meals. The meals promote a balanced diet, including whole grains, dairy and fruits and vegetables provided by brands such as Dole, Quaker and Del Monte.
In order to efficiently serve the communities, PepsiCo has been collaborating with local non-profit organizations. The U.S.D.A. and other government agencies also have been working with the Food for Good team.
“These kinds of unusual partnerships are most likely key to be the future of solving these anemic, almost intractable problems,” said Larry James, president and chief executive officer of CitySquare.
In addition to the food services it provides, Food for Good brings coaches to play games with the children to keep them active.
Food for Good’s farm stand model enables community organizations to sell fresh fruits and vegetables in $1 bundles.Food for Good has been serving Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Houston, Texas; Little Rock, Ark.; and Detroit, and has recently expanded to Oklahoma City, Denver and Waco, Texas.