Oct 19, 2012 • By

We’re hungry to help

“Partnerships and Priorities: Transforming the Global Food Security Agenda” was the theme of The World Food Prize’s 2012 Borlaug Dialogue, held in Des Moines this week. It is an inspirational symposium where policymakers, governmental leaders, business leaders, scientists and others come together to share ideas and seek collaboration.

One of the questions the symposium sought to address this year was: “How is the traditional food security agenda being transformed with new models of collaboration around the world?”

I was able to attend the event with others from General Mills. We learned from the many groups working hard in the area of food security and connected with current and potential partners that share our vision of alleviating hunger.

(Photo of Ken Powell on Flickr: Courtesy of Chuck Zimmerman, ZimmComm New Media, AgWired)

Ken Powell, chairman & CEO of General Mills, provided one of the day’s plenary addresses and spoke about our Partners in Food Solutions (PFS) nonprofit, a collaborative effort with Cargill, DSM, USAID, TechnoServe and others. (You can read Ken’s remarks on GeneralMills.com or watch his presentation here, courtesy of World Food Prize).

General Mills’ partnership approach was highlighted at several points throughout the day.

(Photo of Ken Powell on Flickr: Courtesy of Chuck Zimmerman, ZimmComm New Media, AgWired)

Ken announced an expanded partnership with USAID that will extend the reach of the technical and business expertise PFS provides to small and growing food processors in sub-Saharan Africa. (You can see photos of Ken, on a trip to Africa earlier this year, on our Flickr page).

USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah echoed the excitement for the expanded partnership with PFS and General Mills during his afternoon keynote address. (You can view Dr. Shah’s remarks here, courtesy of World Food Prize).

And, Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE USA, mentioned General Mills’ partnership with CARE benefitting women and girls in Malawi and India, during a panel discussion on collaboration across the G8.

“We undertake what we call ‘extreme partnering,’” Ken said. “Each partner provides different expertise, but together we accomplish far more than any of us could do alone.”

In addition to partnerships, General Mills leverages the skills of its many employee volunteers who are eager to give back. Ken characterized the company and our employees as “hungry to help.”

“We are hungry to help the entrepreneur in Tanzania who is trying to package her products and access new markets,” Ken said. “We are hungry to help the food scientist in Zambia searching for solutions to retain food flavor and optimize nutrients. And we are hungry to help the farmer in Malawi who, by selling her crop, will generate the money needed to support her family and pay for her children to go to school.”

General Mills currently has growing network of more than 300 employee volunteers from many areas of the company who have stepped forward to help with our technical philanthropy in Africa. The volunteers represent many functions including research and development, nutrition, engineering, marketing and finance.

A quote from World Food Prize founder Norman Borlaug sums up well the spirit of the symposium and the motivation of those working to improve food security:

“You can’t build a peaceful world on empty stomachs.”