In Silicon Valley – home to one of the greatest economic engines in the world – there is a silent tragedy that affects more than 250,000 people every month – and that’s hunger. Hunger doesn’t discriminate. It affects the young and the old, families of every size, shape and background.  The challenge, sadly, knows no bounds. Ten thousands miles away – in India – the problem is acute. Here, some students who go to government schools often don’t have enough to eat.  Mothers sometimes don’t have enough to feed their children.

A similar story can be told in Brasilia, Bucharest, Boston, and beyond. The faces of hunger are different, but the challenge of making sure that all have enough to eat is just the same.

In every community, in every part of the world, hunger afflicts far too many– 805 million people according to the United Nations. It is the single-most addressable health problem that we face. No scientific breakthroughs are needed to solve hunger. We have the knowledge, tools, and resources at our disposal to solve this problem.

That’s why Cisco has made a major commitment to stopping hunger in our communities. Over the course of 11 years, our annual Global Hunger Relief Campaign has raised $39.9 million dollars for hunger relief, which translates into 159 million meals provided to those who need it most.

Donations from our 2013 campaign alone provided 23 million meals. These meals were provided through 162 agencies worldwide working to end hunger.

This year will be no different. Beginning on October 27, we launched a two and a half month campaign to raise $1.8 million in employee donations for hunger relief, which will be matched by the Cisco Foundation.

And the impact is incredible.

One participating agency, Akshaya Patra in India, is now able to provide one meal per day to 1.3 million children schoolchildren in nine states – for many, it is the only meal they can count on. For another agency – the Second Harvest Food banks – these donations help provide fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other staples, to the 1 in 10 residents who need assistance in Santa Clara and San Mateo (California) counties in any given month. And at a third organization- the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina,  the donations go to support 73,000 different individuals who receive emergency food assistance per week. Twenty nine percent of them are children; eight percent are elderly; and thirty percent of households have at least one employed adult.

At Cisco, we are blessed with so much. We work at an incredible company that helps bring the world a little closer by connecting the unconnected. But one of the most special things about our company is the commitment to giving back in the communities in which we operate. It’s part of our values. It’s part of our culture. It’s part of our DNA as a company.

So as we approach this giving season, I’d like to encourage all my colleagues at Cisco to participate in our 12th annual Global Hunger Relief campaign – whether through direct donations or volunteering at your local food bank, or both.

Together, we can fight the scourge of hunger and make a difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors in our local communities.


John Chambers

No Longer with Cisco