Walmart Foundation gives $2.5M to Share Our Strength
Today, the Walmart Foundation announced a $2.5 million grant to Share Our Strength to help families nationwide gain valuable hands-on shopping, cooking and nutrition education so they can eat healthy on a budget. The grant will provide 107,500 Americans with access to Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters program, which has a 20-year history of helping low-income families develop and maintain healthier eating habits. The initiative is part of Walmart's and the Walmart Foundation's $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment through 2015 to help fight hunger in America, and Walmart's 2011 initiative to provide customers with healthier and more affordable food choices every day.
Today, 46.5 million Americans live in poverty according to U.S. Census data. For many families who struggle to make ends meet, there is a clear gap between the desire to eat healthy and the ability to consistently prepare nutritious meals for their families. Share Our Strength's "It's Dinnertime" report reveals that 85 percent of low-income families believe eating healthy is important, yet only half are able to prepare nutritious meals on a regular basis. The report also indicates the primary barrier is the perceived high cost of healthy foods. These challenges are especially detrimental to children, as poor nutrition can lead to behavioral, emotional and academic problems,and impair their overall development.[iii] Additionally, this November many families who participate in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) will see their benefits, which help pay for food, reduced. Having less money to spend on food each month will provide added challenges to families that participate in SNAP, and programs like Cooking Matters will help ensure that those impacted by the reductions have an increased understanding of how to identify healthy food and are able to buy it on a shrinking budget.
"Many families in America haven't been given the opportunity to learn about how to eat healthy at home. Programs like Cooking Matters give families the tools necessary to maximize their resources, shop smart on a budget and develop better eating habits," said Julie Gehrki, senior director of the Walmart Foundation. "Today we recognize 'National Food Day' because we believe that healthy eating can change lives. At Walmart, we take this to heart every day by making nutritious foods accessible and affordable for families across the country; and alongside partners like Share Our Strength we can help even more people eat healthier and live better."
Over the next year, the grant will help provide shoppers with access to Cooking Matters at the Store shopping tours at Walmart stores and other grocers. These interactive sessions with trained guides are designed to teach four main skills: buying fruits and vegetables on a budget, comparing unit prices, reading food labels and identifying whole grain foods. In addition, the grant will support six-week Cooking Matters courses that introduce cooking, food budgeting and nutrition concepts proven to increase healthy eating. Following the completion of the six-week course, Share Our Strength found that 80 percent of adults who graduate report improved food budgeting practices, while 78 percent of adult and teen graduates report an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption.
"The Walmart Foundation has supported Share Our Strength programs since 2010, and thanks to their continued support we'll be able to arm more families with the food and nutrition skills needed to make a lasting impact to their overall health," said Billy Shore, founder and CEO, Share Our Strength. "Cooking Matters has a long-standing history of equipping individuals and families with skills to help maximize their food budget and make healthier food choices. The program is part of our No Kid Hungry campaign, which is working to end childhood hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day."
Through the grant, Cooking Matters at the Store tours will be available nationwide and Cooking Matters six-week courses will continue to be offered in the following states: Georgia, Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Michigan,Minnesota, Louisiana, New York, California, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, Missouri and the District of Columbia.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.