In December 2022, a group of friends and colleagues gathered in the Atrium at Rich Products’ Buffalo headquarters to celebrate. The spirit of the winter holiday season was in full swing, and five well-deserving nonprofits were about to receive portions of a $25,000 donation.
“These nonprofits are tackling key challenges that plague the global food system, and so, of course, we wanted to pitch in,” said Kevin Aman, vice president of community engagement at Rich Products. “We invited our Rich’s associates to help shape this corporate giving effort, which is a natural evolution of our commitment to inclusion and growing together.”
With $25,000 to distribute among five nonprofits, Rich’s created an opportunity for its associates to take an active role in the decision-making process. After much discussion and exploration, Rich’s associates identified nonprofits that aligned with their shared values. Then they cast their votes. Once votes were tallied, the winning nonprofits were identified, and the $25,0000 sum was divided and distributed.
“Rich’s is a place where everyone has a seat at the table,” said Aman, “where the unique experiences and perspectives of individual associates are valued and heard. With this initiative, we wanted to give them an opportunity to share their voice in a meaningful way.”
Collectively, the winning nonprofits are working toward a more equitable and sustainable food system by improving access to food (Big Big Table), developing innovative food models (Urban Diner), protecting the ocean for food sustainability (Ocean Conservancy), promoting supply chain equity (Equal Origins), and minimizing food waste and advancing food recovery efforts (Global FoodBanking Network [GFN]).
Funding in hand, each nonprofit can strengthen its message, empower its team, and extend its reach. Here’s a look at the winning nonprofits and the work they are doing to help solve some of our most pressing food system problems.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), food security is when all people—at all times—have access to enough food for an active, healthy life.
In 2021, the USDA reported that 10.2% of households in the United States (13.5 million) experienced food insecurity at some point that year, meaning they were unable to secure enough food to meet the needs of everyone in their family.
This devastating reality isn’t just felt in Rich’s hometown of Buffalo, New York—it hits hard in communities nationwide.
That’s why a group of neighbors on the West Side of Buffalo came together to form the Food Security Council. Part of the West Side Promise Neighborhood (WSPN), the council is committed to strengthening the food system by empowering food vulnerable communities, building relationships, and supporting innovation.
As part of its efforts, the Food Security Council created a monthly Food Finders newsletter, guiding those in need to food pantries, community kitchens, health services, and other resources available within their zip code.
To support the Food Security Council, click here.
Improving how vulnerable individuals, families, and communities access food is a national economic issue. According to Feeding America, key contributors to food insecurity include poverty, unemployment, low income, lack of affordable healthcare, and systemic racism. Is it possible to flip the food model and set the table for meaningful change? Yes, but it takes innovation, persistence, and empathy.
Small steps and big thinking can make an impact, too. That’s exactly what Big Big Table is doing—one meal at a time. Big Big Table operates on a simple yet powerful premise: Everybody eats. While the community cafe serves restaurant-quality food for lunch, its pay-what-you-can pricing model makes it affordable for everyone. Here, customers determine the cost of their own meal based on what they can afford.
Subsidized by generous donors and volunteers who support daily operations, the cafe is the first of its kind in New York State. What’s more, it’s a recipe for success that can be replicated across the region, state, and country.
Meanwhile, Urban Diner at the Matt Urban Center is another Buffalo-based nonprofit bringing food to those in need. At Urban Diner, professionally trained chefs prepare nutritious, restaurant-style meals from 2 to 5 p.m. every Monday through Friday. Furthering its commitment to creating opportunities for folks in need, the diner is staffed by volunteers and community members from Hope Works, Matt Urban Center’s own job readiness program.
Fueled by perseverance, Urban Diner found a safe and healthy solution to feeding the community during COVID, developing a grab-and-go service that provided 5,512 free meals to visitors.
To support the Matt Urban Center, click here.
As a major seafood supplier, Rich’s cares deeply about the health of our oceans—the precious resource that has allowed us to feed families ever since our subsidiary brand, SeaPak, was founded in 1948.
Based in Washington D.C., Ocean Conservancy is a nonprofit that is protecting the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. With a strong leadership team, global partnerships, and more than a million members and supporters worldwide, the group strives to:
With its roots in our nation’s capital, Ocean Conservancy is working with the federal legislature to advance these interests and ensure that adequate funding and attention are given to the ocean.
To make a donation to the Ocean Conservancy, click here.
According to a 2022 report from the International Coffee Organization (ICO), an estimated 25 million rural households in tropical countries derive their livelihood from coffee. However, the report reveals a significant gender gap in economic outcomes: While women make up 70% of the labor force in the coffee sector, men have far more access to land, credit, training, and information. Such a disparity results in yield, productivity, and income inequity.
Enter Equal Origins, an international organization fighting for gender equity in coffee- and cocoa-producing countries. Alongside a contingent of coffee and cocoa companies and development agencies, Equal Origins is creating tools and methodologies to address gender inequality, enhance the livelihood of producers, and ensure the sustainable supply of quality coffee and cocoa.
With our support of Equal Origins, Rich’s is living out its commitment to protecting gender equity and human rights in our workplace, in our industry, and internationally.
To get involved with Equal Origins, click here.
According to the Food Waste Index Report 2021 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), people waste 1 billion tons of food each year. That means, one-third of all food produced globally is thrown away.
Thankfully, food banks, such as those in the Global FoodBanking Network (GFN), are forming a strong link in an otherwise broken food system. Food banks offer vital recovery services, collect safe surplus food from all parts of the food system (e.g., manufacturers, distributors, retail, foodservice, consumers), and redirect people facing hunger through community organizations (e.g., schools, community kitchens, shelters, food pantries).
GFN has member organizations across six continents and nearly 50 countries. In 2021 alone, 39 million people accessed food through a GFN food bank, 13.4 million of whom were children. Without food banks, more good food would go to waste, and more people would go hungry.
In selecting GFN as a grant recipient, we are advancing our journey to reduce waste from our planet and divert materials from landfill wherever we can.
Rich’s is proud to share its commitment to funding food system solutions with our valued associates. Together, we’re sharing perspectives and identifying opportunities that are making a truly meaningful difference for future generations on a global scale.
“As a food manufacturer, we are an integral part of the global supply chain. As such, we have a responsibility, but, more importantly, an opportunity to do our part to protect the planet and people that have made our success possible. By supporting organizations on the frontlines of food system recovery and relief efforts, we’re hoping to create a ripple effect.”
– Kevin Aman, Vice President, Community Engagement, Rich Products