Tackling Hunger and Supporting our Communities is All About Coming Together

5,000 Nestlé Employees, 28 States, One Day of Service

Kim Pagal
Kim Pagal
Aug 9, 2019 · 6 min read

Every year I have a clear mission — to take the commitment to community service Nestlé teams display throughout the year, and bring it to life for thousands of employees across the country in one big event. It’s our annual Day of Service, and it’s all about lifting up the people in the neighborhoods we call home and supporting the amazing work of organizations like Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the U.S.

#NestleInTheNeighborhood 2019

It’s quite a task bringing 5,000 employees across 28 states together for one day, but a glimpse through #NestleInTheNeighborhood makes it worth it — there you can find snapshots from so many activities and teams. From serving lunches to teaching cooking classes, from planting trees to building homes, to assembling care kits for children in hospital care, this event is all about stepping away from our desks and putting our energy into securing a better future for our employees, consumers, and planet.

Malory and Nicola were two of my colleagues who took part in the day in their home states — here’s the day from our perspective.

Where We Volunteered

Kim, Arlington VA: My day was packed — in the morning I was with Capitol Area Food Bank, and our aim was to pack 1866 food bags for local families who can’t afford to eat. We exceeded that goal, and packed more than 2000, which the Food Bank said they didn’t expect us to be able to do! In the afternoon I was with Operation Gratitude, writing letters to actively deployed troops and veterans, as well as creating “Battalion Buddies” — stuffed bears for children of deployed service people, who act as companions while their parent is away.

Nicola, Seattle WA: I was volunteering at Food Lifeline’s hunger solutions center, it’s the largest hunger center in western Washington. They explained to us that 1 in 5 children don’t know where their next meal is coming from, so our mission was to pack high-nutrient foods which would be sent out to those in need in more than 300 locations across the state.

Nicola taking part in some competitive food packing at Food Lifeline in Seattle, WA

Malory, Solon OH: My focus was also on providing care for children, with an organization called Santa’s Hide-A-Way Hollow, which provides a holiday experience for kids going through serious illness. It was genuinely in a very secretive location (to protect Santa’s secret grotto) so I’m not exactly clear on where we were but it was certainly a part of our home community here in Solon!

A Different Kind of Work

Nicola: Our activity was actually very competitive! There were 150 of us split into morning and afternoon teams — the challenge was to pack as much food as possible in our allotted times, and they really brought out the Nestlé Coffee Partners competitive spirit to see which team could pack the most. We got so into our challenge that we actually broke the record for most frozen carrots packed in a day!

Malory: There was an option to work with power tools but I felt it would be better for my colleagues if I left that up to somebody else, so I volunteered to help weed the grounds to make Santa’s village even more appealing. I’m not necessarily a green thumb, but my mom is and I used to tag along with her as a kid, so I had some experience in this area. I was actually really pleased with the impact we had in one day.

Malory (left) weeding the grounds at Santa’s Hide-A-Way Hollow near Solon, Ohio

Kim: Community service is my every day, but coordinating events and connecting people doesn’t mean I always get to be on the ground taking part in the activities. Just being able to chat with the CEO of Operation Gratitude as we worked, and hear his personal experience as a marine and his knowledge of how much the care packages we were making can mean to service people, that’s a really enriching moment and only confirms my passion for this role.

Bringing Teams Together

Malory: It’s amazing how doing something new can help you branch out and get to know your colleagues better. Some of the people volunteering alongside me were actually folks who usually work remotely, but had traveled in to take part, so it was a great bonding experience for all of us to get that time together. I even spent some time talking to Santa and I couldn’t believe it when I found out he used to work for Stouffer’s! I’ve always thought of our mac and cheese as a special gift.

Nicola: We had such a great time volunteering and many of us came away talking about how we’d like to organize to do this together more in small groups — it was such a good, purposeful way to spend a day. The fact that leadership was right there alongside us was a huge morale booster, it really brought us together as a united team.

Kim volunteering for Operation Gratitude alongside her colleagues in Arlington, VA

Kim: It’s easy to be comfortable in your own work space alongside your usual team of colleagues. But, this event makes it naturally easy to meet new people and get to know other parts of the company. You make new friends and connections.

Real, Personal Impact

Malory: This was my fourth time volunteering with Nestlé, and community work has always been part of my life. I came into the company through the Diversity Leadership Symposium, which allowed me to volunteer as part of the day from the outset, and seeing this company wide dedication to community is what made me want to join in the first place. I see it with students thinking about their careers too — as a campus recruiter, students tell you that this kind of event is why they’re interested in Nestlé. It’s personally meaningful.

Kim: When I was in college I knew I wanted a career that was about giving back. I studied non-profit management but I love working on the corporate side and helping our volunteers connect to charitable organisations. I hear a lot from people that they experience something like the Day of Service and then they want to go back and volunteer in their own time — for me, that’s what it’s all about. It awakens this passion in employees to give back. That’s really rewarding.

Nicola: I agree, it’s good to do something that feels so meaningful. Starbucks has always had a big community commitment, so as part of the Nestlé Coffee Partners team it’s great to experience Nestlé’s work in this area and see that community spirit exists so strongly here too. The energy in the team as we wrapped up the day was great — I felt energized by our activity, and my colleagues were all talking about having the same feeling.

Year on year, our Day of Service is a chance to reinforce our community commitment. It’s not all about one day — our company’s purpose is to enhance quality of life, and contribute to a healthier future. That means taking action every day, from developing new products, to partnering with organizations who make a concrete difference in our communities.

We’re so thankful that we have the opportunity to have a real impact, and I’m excited to get to work preparing for another great event in 2020!

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