I am fortunate to attend many outstanding trade shows every year. Some of them are put on by New Hope Natural Media (my employer and the publisher of Natural Foods Merchandiser) while others are put on by either distributors or organizations serving the natural and specialty foods markets.
Today, I am at the 2010 KeHE Holiday Show in Chicago. (It is called the “Holiday” show because this is the time of year when orders are placed for special merchandise that is sold during the holiday season.) To me, KeHE has always epitomized a company with high ideals and values – with very tangible efforts achieve those values. They demonstrated that today.
They partnered with a non-profit organization, Feed My Starving Children, to provide 100,000 meals for people who would otherwise go without. (You can learn more about FMSC at www.fmsc.org.) FMSC has feeding programs in over 60 countries of the world and is run so efficiently that 94% of its income is used for feeding programs, rather than administration and fundraising.
Rather than simply make a donation to this worthy cause, KeHE made a hands-on opportunity available to us who were at their show getting our booths set up! And – there was a lot of the KeHE staff wearing hair nets and working hard at this, as well.
FMSC has worked with doctors and nutritionists from General Mills and Cargill to create a nutritionally balanced meal, that cooks like rice, made up of vegetables, vegetarian chicken stock fortified with 20 vitamins and minerals, soy protein and rice. These four components are mixed and weighted in a bag, sealed, labeled and prepared for shipment.
During any one of four sessions today, vendors were able to donate two (or more) hours of their time to help prepare meals. What a great things to use some spare time for!
In one of the halls of Chicago’s great McCormick Center, FMSC set up a temporary FDA-approved food packaging facility and gave us a quick lesson about how to scoop, measure, mix, weigh, seal and package the meals. In just a few minutes we were off and running!
The shift I was a part of, the 4th and final one of the day, packaged over 35,000 meals in just over 2 hours! For the day, the total number of meals packaged was over 101,000!
Most of the shows that I go to collect all of the food from the show floor at the end of the show and donate them to a local food bank or pantry. I think that this is a great thing – there is no need for anything to go to waste.
However, the partnership that KeHE has with FMSC has taken things to the next level – not just putting unused product to good use, but putting some of the time and effort of those at their show to good use!
My hat (and my hairnet) are off to salute the good people at FMSC and KeHE Distributors!