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Volunteering is good for you. Just Google “benefits of volunteering” and countless articles pop up citing the relationship between a person’s overall well-being and their contributions of time and talent to something they care about.
Volunteering feels good, too. Whether you’re packing meals at a food bank, cleaning up debris from a riverbank, planting an urban vegetable garden – or doing countless other meaningful activities – using your hands and heart to help others brings a real sense of joy and accomplishment.
A growing trend for the global employees of companies like Cargill is called “skills-based volunteering,” which allows professionals to use their on-the-job expertise to harness their unique talents and develop their careers while making a measurable difference in the world.
Meet Samuel Claes and Elise Demarthe, Cargill employees based in Europe and featured in the videos with this story. They’re putting their professional knowledge and expertise to valuable work outside the walls of the office – and are excellent examples of skills-based volunteering in action.
Claes, a Cargill account manager in Izegem, Belgium, is one of 50 Cargill employees across the world who currently uses his work skills to volunteer with Partners in Food Solutions, an organization that connects the technical and business expertise of corporate employee volunteers with small and growing African food processors. His background in sales and marketing made him a perfect match to help Faffa, a growing food processor in Ethiopia, define its marketing strategy (see video).
Now, Claes also is helping Lakeshore Agro Processors in Malawi develop a good manufacturing practice and quality assurance plan with a team of volunteers.
“I see great potential in the African continent, and wanted to find a way to contribute to farming communities benefiting from corporate partners’ knowledge,” he said.
Another Cargill partner is the European Federation of Food Banks. The company’s support to FEBA includes financial and product donations, but what FEBA really needed was advice on how to better cope with the increasing demand on food banking services. Managing more than 50,000 tons of food that is often collected as surplus from the European food and drink industry isn’t easy – and for a food bank manager, it means not only having the knowledge and expertise on keeping the food they manage safe, but also disseminating that information to staff volunteers working every day on the ground to feed those in need.
Enter Demarthe, local food safety lead for Cargill’s agricultural supply chain business in France. She spent two days with 13 food bank managers from eight countries to discuss a range of topics including food safety, food alert management, hygiene practices, traceability and document management (see video).
“The quality of Cargill’s contributions and the exchange its people held with participants was highly appreciated,” said FEBA’s Secretary General, Patrick Alix. “Clearly, involving Cargill, a major player in the food industry, marks a major contribution to our program.”
Like Claes and Demarthe, Cargill employees around the world serving as skills-based volunteers are passionate about offering their time and expertise because they believe knowledge-sharing can be a new way to augment traditional charitable giving, while also benefitting their professional development. Together, they’re helping fulfill the company’s purpose of nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way.
KEYWORDS: Volunteerism & Community Engagement, Business & Trade, Cargill, food security, skills-based volunteering, Employee Engagement
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