In 1996, the Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was passed to protect organizations from liability when they give good faith donations of food for charitable causes. For most
people, this might not seem like a milestone event, but for Steve Brady it was all the motivation needed to put his plan into action.
As the Vice President of Communications for Sodexo USA, Steve saw a need in America and the potential for the company to make a difference. Later that year, Steve announced the formation of “Stop Hunger”, launching a coordinated initiative for Sodexo employees to get involved in hunger relief efforts through volunteerism, fundraisers and food donations.
A lot has changed in 20 years. What began with a small walk engaging 17 employees has grown to a worldwide movement combating hunger in 48 countries. The movement will continue to evolve as we find innovative and sustainable solutions to fight hunger.
Building on the success of the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations introduced the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit. Over the next 15 years, with these new goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities, and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. 1
These goals towards building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future are monumental and can only be reached with the help of everyone: governments, the private sector and civil society, and must also include youth. Accompanying each goal are specific targets like, “By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.”2 You could say that we too have adopted the UN’s goals of #2 Zero Hunger and #12 Responsible Consumption and Production, just as you should.
1.3 billion tons of food goes wasted every year, while 1 billion people around the world go undernourished and another 1 billion go hungry. 3 Food recovery is the next big initiative when it comes to ridding the world of hunger. As the recognized global sustainability leader in its market sector, Sodexo is very focused on food recovery. Since the Bill Emerson Act was introduced 20 years ago, Sodexo has been an advocate for reducing and repurposing food that would otherwise go to waste.
A year ago, Sodexo pledged to recover 1 million meals in a year along with our food recovery partners. In June, we were proud to announce that we achieved this goal by recovering 1,003,000 meals. Moreover, since its inception, Stop Hunger has mobilized 600,000 volunteers, distributed 21 million meals, and raised over $39 million to combat hunger worldwide.
Though proud of our achievements, we can’t claim victory until there is no longer a need for initiatives, like Stop Hunger. Improving Quality of Life has always been central to Sodexo, and contributing to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals is a natural extension of our Stop Hunger and Better Tomorrow Plan commitments. Ending hunger is attainable in our lifetime. We may not be done yet, but we are making a difference.
Bob Stern is President of the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation and Group General Counsel for Sodexo. Mr. Stern is a strong advocate for the new performance frontier: Quality of Life. He is committed to mobilizing communities and resources to ensure children have dependable access to enough nutritious food to enable them to lead a healthy, productive life.