Hunger is the world’s number 1 health risk, killing more than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined each year.Close to 900 million people do not have enough to eat and 98 percent of them live in developing countries. Even in developed countries like the United States, 15 percent of households were food insecure at some point during 2011, meaning its members had uncertain access to adequate and safe food.
Cisco’s annual employee giving campaign, Global Hunger Relief, is focused on providing immediate support to those in desperate need.
At locations around the globe, Cisco employees contribute time, dollars, and expertise in support of more than 140 organizations working to help those who don’t have reliable access to food and clean water. Collectively, we donate over $1 million to hunger relief annually through the Global Hunger Relief Campaign.
Each year on the East Coast of the United States, Cisco employees in Boxborough, Massachusetts; Lawrenceville, Georgia; and the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina campus tackle the issue of hunger through creative employee engagement, in addition to monetary donations.
Employees in Boxborough harvest nature’s bounty as part of its hunger relief efforts by preparing vegetable beds and planting seeds at the Community Harvest Project. The organization builds an engaged and healthier community by bringing volunteers together to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for hunger relief.
Farming teams often work four hours straight and can collect up to 2000 pounds of fresh vegetables in a single day. The produce is donated to the Worcester County Food Bank, which in turn serves more than 800,000 people in 55 towns and cities across Northwest Massachusetts.
In Lawrenceville, where employees raise tens of thousands of dollars each year for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Cisco engineers put their expertise to use in building sculptures out of canned foods to raise awareness of the issue of global hunger. Teams of engineers, along with employees across departments, develop the idea for the sculpture and design it through a computer-aided design (CAD) program to determine the quantities and colors of cans needed.
The teams of Cisco employees then erect massive can sculptures on the Cisco campus. This year, a gingerbread house weighing 1.28 tons was constructed of more than 5000 cans. Once the Global Hunger Relief Campaign is over, all cans are donated to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
In North Carolina, at Cisco’s Research Triangle Park site, close to 300 employees launched the Global Hunger Relief Campaign at the campus’ 12th annual 5k to benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Walkers and runners took the nearly 3-mile trek around the RTP site. Upon return, they were served a “hunger lunch” by Nourish International consisting of rice, beans, and cornbread. Nourish, which engages college students and communities to make a lasting impact on extreme poverty, helped to further raise awareness of the urgent challenge hunger presents around the world.
Cisco’s Global Hunger Relief Campaign takes place from November 1 to December 31 each year. All employee contributions are matched twice – once by the Cisco Foundation and once by Cisco Chairman Emeritus John Morgridge – to triple the impact of every gift. In addition, employees who volunteer their “sweat equity” to eligible organizations have their hours matched at $10 per hour by the Cisco Foundation.
Those outside of the Cisco workforce can take action against hunger by leaving a comment on the Cisco How Do You Give Facebook tab about how they give back. For every comment made on the page through December 31, Cisco will donate $1 to the World Food Programme – enough to provide 4 meals.
When Cisco employees come together to solve a problem, it’s amazing what we accomplish. I’m always inspired by their creativity and innovation, particularly when it’s focused on helping those in desperate need around the world.