Head of U.S. Food Service &
Danone North America
Last night I was the lucky representative of more than 1,500 colleagues here in the U.S. at Dannon and 100,000 Danoners around the world to receive Sodexo’s recognition as this year’s Hunger Champion. We are deeply grateful for our collaboration in business and for the equally important role we play together to make the world a better place.
Our commitment to quality of life begins with the values we share with Sodexo – that is the foundation of the relationship we enjoy together in business and in pursuit of our social priorities. Danone’s focus on improving quality of life is centered on bringing health through food to as many people as possible.
Here in the U.S., many Americans understand that we have a major obesity problem, however, fewer understand that we have an equally alarming hunger problem. They are flipsides of the same coin and we’re passionate about both. This drives our commitment to educate Americans about the benefits of eating yogurt every day as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, as well as doing what we can to provide access to nutritious foods to families across the country struggling with hunger.
In addition to donating millions of pounds of yogurt to Feeding America, last year we started a new program called Sack hunger to engage our consumers and it was successful beyond our greatest expectations. The 1.6 million meals we helped to put on the plates of Americans was more than double our goal not only because of the enthusiastic response from our consumers but from our employees, who reached into their own pockets to add over 550,000 meals to the donation tally. In addition to this, our teams across the U.S. packed by hand over 600,000 nutritious meals for their local Feeding America network food banks. To me, that is the truest demonstration of values in action.
And while we are in the midst of a growing movement, a food revolution, we are guided by our Manifesto, which is really just our mission in action, and it is comprised of three major priorities focused on alimentation, the food and water cycle, and of course our people and organization.
Alimentation is not a commonly used word in English but to us at Danone it translates into our belief that food is health’s most powerful ally. By encouraging healthy diets and lifestyles, we’re nourishing life – meeting the needs and wants of every consumer at each of life’s milestones, with products that respect local cultures. Our aim is promote healthier eating habits, and selling products is only the start.
And for the food and water cycle, we want to strengthen Danone’s ability to protect and optimize our essential resources – water, milk and plastic – and secure our license to operate in a cycle-oriented way. This is one reason why we recently announced our pledge to sustainable agricultural practices, with more naturality in three of our flagship brands, as well as more transparency in how we communicate.
And for our organization and people, we want to build a more solid organization that is better adapted to today’s challenges, with the contribution of our 100,000 Danoners.
Also in the area of growing leaders and diversity, this spring we piloted a new program in Fort Worth and New York City called Girls 4 Tomorrow. Nearly 100 girls from 25 higher needs schools came together with nutrition leaders, business experts and special guests to take part in a unique workshop designed to help them think and act like entrepreneurs to create, develop and refine their ideas aimed at improving health and wellness in their schools. The girls pitched their ideas to a panel of judges, and grants were awarded to 24 winning pitches to help make those ideas a reality. These are our future leaders.
Thank you to the entire Sodexo team for the recognition as this year’s Hunger Champion – and for all the collaboration still to come.
Antoine Remy is the Vice President Food Service for The Dannon Company and Business Development Danone Dairy North America. Antoine is responsible for successfully delivering long-term sustainable and profitable growth in our U.S. Food Service division, as well as nurturing business development opportunities for Danone Dairy North America. The Dannon Company was recently honored at the 17th Annual Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation Dinner as a 2016 Hunger Champion.