Smithfield Foods recently reported that 2020 marks the company's largest year of charitable giving since its founding in 1936. Last year, Smithfield contributed more than $69 million, including more than $62 million in in-kind and nearly $7 million in cash donations, to fight hunger and help communities where Smithfield employees live and work.
The milestone year of record-giving reflects unique emergency response efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to increased need, Smithfield expanded donations through Helping Hungry Homes, the company's signature hunger-relief initiative which proudly partners with Feeding America and its network of food banks across the U.S. to alleviate hunger year-round. Donations of nourishing protein products and cash to Feeding America amounted to over 68 million food servings and accounted for more than $62 million of the company's total 2020 giving.
"As Smithfield continues to work overtime to safely maintain America's food supply amid a pandemic, our company has been fortunate to be in a position to not only continue our philanthropic giving, but to significantly increase our efforts to help our local communities endure extraordinarily difficult times," said Stewart Leeth, chief sustainability officer for Smithfield Foods.
Smithfield's ongoing charitable initiatives program contributes millions of dollars in cash and in-kind donations each year. Given the unexpected circumstances of 2020, Smithfield's total philanthropic giving figure amounts to several times the company's historic and projected annual contributions.
To increase support for Feeding America and the millions of people facing hunger as a result of the pandemic, Smithfield announced in April its largest donation commitment in company history: 10 million pounds of protein to food banks across America, the equivalent of 40 million food servings. The commitment, a more than $30 million value, was fulfilled by the end of September.
"Even before COVID-19, hunger impacted every community in our country. Unfortunately, the pandemic has been increasingly burdensome for our neighbors who live paycheck to paycheck," said Blake Thompson, chief supply chain officer for Feeding America. "We are thankful for Smithfield's generous donations – in times of both calm and crisis – that help our network of food banks provide meals to communities in need."
Since 2008, Smithfield's signature Helping Hungry Homes initiative has provided more than 212 million servings of protein to food banks, disaster relief efforts and community outreach programs in all 50 states. In March 2020, Smithfield launched the "Good Food Challenge", a COVID-19 response fund and public call-to-action to raise awareness of Feeding America's ongoing crisis-relief efforts. In another COVID-19 emergency response effort, last June, Smithfield donated personal protective equipment (PPE), including 115,000 face shields valued at nearly $700,000, to frontline healthcare workers in nursing homes and hospitals across the nation fighting the pandemic and hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and face shields to more than 10,000 students in North Carolina.
In fall 2020, Smithfield pledged $5 million in grants and scholarships to reinforce its corporate commitments to education and diversity, equity and inclusion. Expanded outreach efforts include partner initiatives supporting:
- The North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) to fund wireless hotspots for students in rural areas and address long-term internet access solutions for underserved communities.
- Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) to promote a diverse K-12 student pipeline interested in food, agriculture and natural resource careers.
- The Heritage STEM Camps Foundation (HSCF) to fund a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) summer camp empowering young minority women ages 12-18 in the Mid-Atlantic region.
- An Achievable Dream (AAD) to support equity in education and provide resources to public-school districts in underserved communities in Tidewater Virginia.
To complement these outreach initiatives internally, Smithfield also expanded in 2020 its long-time scholarship program, committing more than $1 million in educational scholarships to children and grandchildren of U.S. employees. The program, which presently includes several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), will be expanded to include additional HBCUs to further support Smithfield's diversity and inclusion efforts.