Why Yum Brands Fights Hunger

Company Strives to Make Complex Issue Simple to Embrace

By Published on .

Recently, I joined a delegation from the United Nations World Food Programme on a trip to Kenya, where we met government officials, talked with people living in the slums of Kibera and visited the world's largest refugee camp at Dadaab. I witnessed extreme poverty -- people living in shacks with no running water, no electricity and garbage as far as the eye could see. I saw starvation and people dying around me. While it was very hard to see people living in these terrible conditions, I came away from Africa more motivated than ever to help find a solution to this critical problem.

I was invited to Kenya because of Yum's World Hunger Relief effort, which raises awareness and funds for WFP and other hunger relief organizations as well as stimulating volunteerism. Almost 1 billion people around the world are hungry, wondering how they will get their next meal. What's even more incomprehensible is that hunger kill more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

Jonathan Blum, Yum chief public affairs officer, joined a World Food Programme delegation on a fact-finding trip to Kenya, where he talked with people who live in the slums of Kibera and in the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab.
Jonathan Blum, Yum chief public affairs officer, joined a World Food Programme delegation on a fact-finding trip to Kenya, where he talked with people who live in the slums of Kibera and in the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab.

Since 2007, World Hunger Relief has raised almost $85 million for WFP and other organizations, providing 350 million meals that have helped save millions of lives. This year, we are directing the first $1 million from the program to help WFP feed those in urgent need of food assistance in the Horn of Africa.

I've been involved with hundreds of marketing efforts during my career. However, nothing has been more powerful than partnering with WFP and launching World Hunger Relief, which began as a way to mark Yum Brands' 10th anniversary. We decided to align our global system around a large-scale crisis that we could address to help make the world a better place.

As the the world's largest restaurant company, we felt it was our privilege and responsibility to expand our hunger relief efforts outside the U.S. We decided to partner with WFP because it is the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.

Global hunger is an incredibly complex problem, affected by natural disasters, conflicts, poverty, poor agricultural infrastructures, high food prices and over-exploitation of the environment.

So how have we taken this complex challenge and made our efforts "simple" for customers and employees to embrace and participate?

We are leveraging the scale of our 38,000 KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants in 117 countries, marketing power and employee volunteerism to fight hunger and save lives.

To start, World Hunger Relief is all about fighting hunger, not marketing products. We've made it clear to consumers how they can help combat hunger, no purchase necessary. We raise awareness of the issue with more than 115 million people who walk through our doors weekly, and call attention to the hunger crisis to millions more visiting our websites, including www.FromHungertoHope.com.

Using our global system, we generate the equivalent of nearly $50 million in awareness of the hunger issue through PSAs, advertising, public relations, social and Web-based communications, and in-restaurant posters. We've raised significant global awareness through our partnership with international superstar Christina Aguilera, who is appearing in a new global PSA, restaurant posters and online efforts. Our chairman-CEO, David Novak, also appears in a PSA for World Hunger Relief that aims to reach the business community.

Additionally, we've empowered our 1.4 million associates around the globe to generate awareness and raise funds for World Hunger Relief through various initiatives -- from hikes for hunger in the U.K. to bicycle races in China. I'm especially proud that our associates, franchisees and their families have volunteered 21 million hours and counting at hunger relief agencies, food banks, soup kitchens and other organizations since the campaign began. David, other senior executives; franchise leaders from KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Yum Restaurants International; and I have also traveled to Haiti, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and most recently Honduras to help WFP relief efforts and see that good work in action.

Yum also addresses hunger across the U.S. through our Harvest program. Since its debut two decades ago, Harvest has become the largest prepared-food donation program in the world. Through Harvest, Yum has donated more than 125 million pounds of food, valued at more than $500 million, to those Americans at risk of hunger.

Our vision for World Hunger Relief is to give every employee, franchisee and customer the opportunity to help leave the world better than we found it by truly making an impact on this global crisis. I urge you to join us in the movement to end global hunger. Every dollar raised will go directly to WFP's operations to fight hunger around the world. Just $1 provides four meals for hungry people who desperately need our help. Please visit www.FromHungertoHope.com.

Jonathan Blum is chief public affairs officer, Yum Brands.
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