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Campbell Soup Company is a global manufacturer and marketer of high-quality foods and simple meals, including soup and sauces, baked snacks and healthy beverages. Founded in 1869, the company has a portfolio of market-leading brands, including Campbells, Pepperidge Farm, Arnotts and V8. Through its corporate social responsibility program, the company strives to make a positive impact in the workplace, in the marketplace and in the communities in which it operates. Campbell is a member of the Standard Poors 500 and the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes.
Childhood Obesity Program Is Shaping Up
One day soon, a mom may take her child to their family doctor in Camden and be given a prescription to be filled at the corner store: Take two fruits and vegetables per day.
Inviting primary care providers to give families coupons redeemable for fresh produce at local markets is just one of many innovative ideas in Campbell's $10 million initiative to slash hunger and childhood obesity rates in half over the next decade in Camden, N.J., the company's headquarters community.
"Thanks partly to funding from Campbell, Camden residents may get some of the best health care services in the country," said Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, Executive Director of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, one of the program's partners. "We're working to reinvent how patients receive health care in one of America's poorest cities."
Updates on initial efforts to start reversing these trends were offered last month at a Leaders' Luncheon at World Headquarters. The event was hosted by Kim Fortunato, Director-Childhood Obesity and Hunger Programs, and attended by representatives of the program's nonprofit partners and its six pilot sites.
Almost 40 percent of Camden children aged 3 to 18 are overweight or obese -- well above the national average -- and nearly a quarter of Camden households with children in that age range report having too little to eat.
Describing the initiative's 10-year goal as "audacious," Kim said that achieving it would require patient investment and the collective efforts of all the groups involved. Jerry Buckley, Senior Vice President-Public Affairs, stressed that partnership is one of the most important aspects of the effort.
Brenner echoed that idea as he talked about reaching out to other potential funding partners who are excited about the initiative's possibilities.
"We're going to redesign the way pregnant moms receive prenatal care and their kids receive well-child visits," he told the lunch gathering. "Instead of having short, rushed visits for 15 minutes with the provider for prenatal care, or 20 minutes for well-child visits, they'll be part of a group of moms receiving ongoing care throughout the pregnancy. At each visit, they'll get to spend an hour or hour-and-a-half with their doctor or provider as a group."
By doing a better job with a group approach and working with children who the pregnant mothers may bring with them, Brenner added, "we can include nutrition education, cooking classes, and make receiving health care services a lot more fun so that it reinforces the message."
Participants from several pilot sites talked about the benefits of a multi-pronged approach. Wilbert Mitchell, Executive Director of Respond, Inc., said that preschool children in a dozen child-care centers in North Camden were learning about fruits and vegetables, and that both children and parents were learning about cooking.
Patricia Quinter, Principal of Holy Name School in North Camden, stressed the importance of physical activity in addition to healthy eating. "We're trying to get a gym teacher once a week," she said.
Rev. Calvin Woods of Parkside United Methodist Church reported that children there benefited from a Grow-Lab, the Camden City Garden Club's elementary education program that uses a mini indoor greenhouse to teach science and math skills. Children at Parkside also enjoy a garden from which they can take produce home, and the church lawn has been turned over to young people for physical activity.
Although the initiative won't swing into full gear until fall, Mike Devlin, Executive Director of the Camden City Garden Club, said that all six pilot sites already have gardens and Grow-Labs.
And Curtis Myers of the YMCA of Burlington and Camden Counties said that training is beginning for teams to lead children in physical activities under the theme "We're Taking Over Recess."
Not all updates focused on schools. The Food Trust has done an initial assessment in target communities to make connections with corner stores and the distributors who place products in those stores, with a goal of getting store owners to offer more healthful food and fresh produce.
That could dovetail with some of the expertise available through Campbell volunteers. "We know a surplus of produce exists" at some of Camden's community gardens, said Community Service Manager Amanda Bauman. "We have people who have the skills and knowledge ... try to create a sustainable supply chain."
That is just one example of how Campbell is committing another major resource to its fight against childhood obesity and hunger in Camden: the time and talents of its employees. "Campbell volunteers have a lot to offer and a host of skills," Amanda said. "Many passionate employees want to be part of the solution to the childhood obesity issue." They may lend a hand in many ways, from running physical activities for kids to sharing cooking skills or helping in a garden.
Through its “Nourishing” corporate social responsibility program, Campbell has been widely recognized for making a positive impact in the workplace, in the marketplace and in the communities in which it operates. The company has been added to the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, named to the 100 Best Corporate Citizens List by Corporate Responsibility magazine, and named a Catalyst Award Winner in 2010.