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February 21, 2017
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More than 250 volunteers pitch in at Stop Hunger Now event at CSCMP Annual Conference

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The second annual event not only served as a way for supply chain professionals to give back to community, but it also attracted millennials and helped to strengthen ties between business partners.

Before the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Annual Conference even officially opened last week, approximately 250 supply chain managers gathered at the Gaylord Palms Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., to assemble more than 45,000 food packages for the international nonprofit Stop Hunger Now. The Raleigh, North Carolina-based organization operates meal-packaging programs in 20 cities in the United States, Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America.

Volunteers at CSCMP's 2016 annual conference
At CSCMP's 2016 annual conference, attendees took time out to gather more than 45,000 food packages for the international nonprofit Stop Hunger Now.

The event, which was co-sponsored by the logistics service provider C.H. Robinson and the chemical and agricultural giant Monsanto, grew out of desire by CSCMP's board of directors to create an opportunity for attendees at the organization's annual conference to give back to the global community.

The board felt that packaging meals for Stop Hunger Now was a particularly good fit for CSCMP, as it essentially re-creates the entire physical supply chain from planning and sourcing to making the packages and staging them for delivery, according to Mark Baxa, vice president of global procurement and strategic sourcing for Monsanto and a CSCMP board member.

Kids helping out at Stop Hunger Now event
Kids helped out at CSCMP's Stop Hunger Now event—and learned about the supply chain in the process.

A powerful recruitment tool
While there are many reasons for companies to participate in such events, one key benefit, according to Baxa, is that it helps to attract and retain younger members of the workforce, often known as millennials. "All of the research shows that the incoming workforce is very engaged in giving back to the community," he said in an interview at the conference.

C.H. Robinson has a similar view, according to CEO John Wiehoff. "Our business depends on people, process, and technology," he said in the same interview. "Attracting and retaining good people is essential to the success of our business. We want to hire people who not only know lots about supply chain management and have a good work ethic, but also have a good heart and want to be involved in an effort like this."

Indeed, among the participants at the event was Brian Jacobson, strategic account manager at C.H. Robinson and a recipient of CSCMP's 2016 Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes supply chain professionals under the age of 30 who have made an impact on the field. One of Jacobson's long-term supply chain goals is to help local charities such as food banks and homeless shelters improve their logistics operations.

A good strategic fit
For C.H. Robinson and Monsanto, working with Stop Hunger Now also aligns well with the companies' overall business strategy.

"It fits hand-in-glove with our company's journey to create a sustainable earth and lifestyle around the world, and we could offer a partnership with our logistics service provider [C.H. Robinson], which is responsible for distributing our seeds around the world," Baxa said.

For companies looking to expand their own charitable and corporate social responsibility efforts, Wiehoff recommends following similar criteria. "When you look at the ways that you can impact the world around you, the opportunities are limitless," he said. "You want to do everything, but you have to narrow your focus. It makes sense to focus on those that are aligned with your business."

Susan Lacefield is Senior Editor of CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly.

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