Sponsoring a shelf at your local pantry or food bank is really the next step. We started sponsoring a shelf at WHEAT, our local food bank in West Haven, last fall. This is a great thing for any company or organization to do, and it’s a personal goal of my own to get a few more companies in West Haven to join us in this. We have had some great support in this effort, especially from Yale, who has also pledged to sponsor a shelf.
Here in West Haven, WHEAT has a rule of thumb that 100 items on a shelf, such as 100 cans of stew, for example, is a week’s supply of that item. So how, you may ask, can they fill a shelf for a week with $100? Feeding America and a network of their participating food banks make food available for local pantries. In the case of WHEAT, they get food from the Connecticut Food Bank. They estimate an average of $1 per item, so therefore $100 sponsors a shelf for a week.
In other words, some food is donated, and any additional food needed is purchased by the pantry at lower-than-retail prices. This means any cash donated to the pantry can often be made to go further. So that’s how $100 really keeps a shelf stocked for a week!
Watson has committed to sponsoring a shelf for a full year. We know that not every company is large enough to be able to take on a commitment like this, but we are working on spreading the word and getting more companies and organizations to do the same. Smaller companies that cannot donate $100 per week could join together. For example, maybe an association of 10 smaller companies could each donate $10 a week, which can be a more reasonable and affordable amount for them to budget.
Sponsorship is a great option because there is a commitment and a sense of responsibility and, in a way, ownership. This is a great way for companies and organizations to strengthen their relationship with their local food banks, and at the same time show a real commitment to social responsibility. Because it is on-going in nature, it shows a serious level of commitment compared to just a single annual food drive. We do several food drives each year, but we are most proud of our sponsorship of a shelf.
Sponsorships are also very impactful for the food pantries because they know they can rely on those funds coming in and can forecast what their funds will be from the sponsorships, which allows for longer-term planning. This is a real advantage that can allow them to function more efficiently and effectively.
Learn More about Food Banks in Your Area:
Watson also supports the Connecticut Food Bank and the Food Pantry in Taylorville IL, where we also have a manufacturing facility.
If you want to find the food bank nearest you can use this tool on the feeding America Website.
What Can YOU Do?
In most companies that are active in their community, it all started with just one person. It’s true! It generally takes only one person with some energy and motivation to get things going. You need to stay committed and create and stick to your goals, but after a time, momentum is gained and the spirit of giving and the community really takes off.
This can foster a whole new facet of your corporate culture, in which people are proud of being a part of all that their company is doing in their community. Everyone wants to work for a company that gives back and everyone wants to see a greater purpose to what they are doing on the job. Companies will get improved employee engagement, better employee retention, and higher-quality applicants when they are seen as good community partners.
So pitch this idea to people in your company and organization. It’s good for the company too. Ask them if they would be willing to sponsor a shelf. Sometimes, all you need to do is ask (sometimes you need to ask more than once!) Try to get some smaller companies together to sponsor a shelf.
If everyone reading this post tries, and if even just a few are successful, then that is a few more companies sponsoring a world of difference. Will yours be one of them?