The Hershey Company today announced a partnership that will support its campaign to fight malnutrition in Ghana. As part of its Energize Learning program, the company is teaming up with the Ghana School Feeding Programme and current partner Project Peanut Butter to distribute a peanut-based protein supplement called Vivi to schoolchildren. The program aims to reach 50,000 children by 2016, and eventually expand to serve all children in Ghana’s school feeding program.
“We believe that bright futures start with basic nutrition,” reads the opening text of a Hershey’s video describing Energize Learning. “This is a story of an immediate need, social innovation and the challenges faced along the way.” Hershey has released a series of YouTube videos that chronicle the program’s setup — from the journey to Ghana, to equipping the peanut factory in Kumasi, to building a distribution network.
“Nourishing minds is our global social purpose,” chairman and CEO John P. Bilbrey says in a video message. “My vision is for our employees around the world is to bring nourishing minds to our communities and the marketplaces where we work.”
Distribution of Vivi will initially focus on school feeding programs in the vicinity of the Kumasi factory and in the northern region of Ghana, where child malnutrition rates are highest. While the country is one of Africa’s strongest emerging economies, roughly four out of ten children in Ghana are stunted or chronically malnourished, according to the UN. The Vivi supplement has been found to increase the daily caloric intake for hungry children by 25 percent.
In addition to delivering Vivi, Energize Learning also provides an opportunity for Hershey employees to share their expertise with local farmers to expedite and expand their peanut production.
“Our partnership with Hershey addresses a great social need and will positively impact Ghana’s local economy by supporting both our schoolchildren and the livelihoods of our smallholder farmers,” said Hon. Seidu Paakuna Adamu, National Coordinator for the Ghana School Feeding Programme.
Hershey is also working with the University of Ghana to analyze the outcomes of Energize Learning over the next two years.
“This social innovation program is an example of how private, public and non-profit partners can work together to have a positive impact on the lives of children, farmers and their families in Ghana,” said Carly Edwards, Country Director, Project Peanut Butter Ghana.
The Energize Learning program is part of Hershey’s longstanding efforts to help disadvantaged children around the world, beginning with its creation of the Milton Hershey School in 1909. The company’s commitment to supporting educational access continues today, according to CEO Bilbrey:
“Energize Learning will harness our strongest assets — our employees and our food expertise — to provide children in Ghana with the basic nutrition they need to learn and grow. Through this partnership, it’s our hope that children can make the most of their education and focus on their studies, rather than their stomachs,” he said.
Hershey’s new partnership follows the company’s recent sustainability achievements, which include exceeding its sustainably sourced cocoa goals set in 2014, and being named a top ten green U.S. company in Newsweek’s 2015 Green Rankings.
Interested stakeholders can follow Energize Learning updates on nourishingminds.com.