The 2015 Social & Community Investment Awards: A.T. Kearney

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Firm: A.T. Kearney
Type of Work: Pro Bono
Client: Feeding America

For the last five years, A.T. Kearney has worked with the senior executives at Feeding America, helping them find new sources of nutritious food for the 46 million people including 12 million children and over seven million seniors who are in need.

Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization—a network of 200 food banks across the country. A.T. Kearney’s involvement has ranged from undertaking studies on the sources of food waste in the U.S. to assisting with strategic planning. As food insecurity rates hold steady at the highest levels ever, the Feeding America network of food banks have risen to meet the need. The work on food waste was instrumental in helping to redefine the nature of food donations, helping Feeding America find new sources of food for some 46 million people, says Dave Donnan, Partner with A.T. Kearney.

“Primarily our work with Feeding America has focused around the supply chain and the operational side of things, helping them become more efficient on issues of moving food and supplies where it needs to be,” he says. “We produce enough food, we just have to get it to the people who need it.”

Donnan says A.T. Kearney’s relationship with Feeding America is long-standing and fairly open-ended, often the firms meet informally to brain storm ways Feeding America can be more efficient.

“For instance, recently we had some of their leadership in our offices and we brought in some of our supply chain experts to discuss ways Feeding America could get more fresh fruits and vegetables to food banks in a more timely fashion,” he says. “Our work on food waste was instrumental in helping to redefine the nature of food donations in the industry. A.T. Kearney found that more than 90 billion pounds of food is wasted annually and identified ways to redirect excess food to donations.”

The project report was presented to executives in the food and grocery industry at annual conferences. In addition, A.T. Kearney published a white paper with Feeding America entitled “Save the Planet, Feed the Planet,” outlining how a focus on food waste and sustainability could lead to feeding the population.

The project also led to a cross-industry “Zero Waste” initiative sponsored by the leading food companies and their associations. A.T. Kearney continues to work with Feeding America on specific initiatives to find new sources of nutritious food such as fresh produce and proteins. A.T. Kearney has also helped individual food banks in Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago with their operations and local food drives.

“There’s a food bank in every major city and our employees have really responded because it’s something they can do on the local level,” Donnan says. “People are very proud of the work and they’re very engaged because they can immediately feel the impact. People are willing to give up their time to do this work because they feel it’s so important. I think that says something about the work, but more about the people doing it.”

There are lots of ways for firms to give back to the community and many do it financially, which is great, Donnan says. “But when you see an organization like A.T. Kearney getting actively involved and see employees at all levels giving up their time and energy and thought leadership for the good of an organization, that’s so much more fulfilling,” he says. “The energy that’s created is immense and is so much more powerful, I think, than writing a check.”

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