PepsiCo Inc. is a multinational food and beverage company with operations in over 200 countries.
Food For Good: Amy Chen’s idea for a social incubator was a PepsiCo Innovation
When Amy Chen started her first job as a marketer for Pepsico’s pita chip brand in 2007, she started thinking about how she could use her position to help make a difference in the world.
“What if PepsiCo could be on the cutting edge of figuring out new business models that were revenue-generating but had a social impact?” – Amy Chen
Chen came up with a plan for a social business incubator to develop sustainable business models to improve access to healthy food in underserved communities. She presented this idea amidst PepsiCo’s CEO Indra Nooyi. Her idea was accepted, and Food for Good was born in 2009.
According to its website, the mission of Food for Good is “to make healthy food physically and financially accessible for low-income families through sustainable, business-driven solutions.”
The incubator partners with communities, government agencies, and non-profit organizations to bring meals to children at risk of hunger, and to improve access to fruits and vegetables for those in food desert neighbourhoods.
There were specific tactics taken by the initiative, such as the conversion of “a dilapidated football field in Texas” into an urban farm. They also started a mobile meals program that operates during the summer, when many children go hungry for lack of school breakfasts and lunches. Since 2009, over 50 million mobile meals have been served.
There is also a farm stand program where they equip community members with tools to become their own change agents. Individuals are given tools and access to a distribution and supply chain network so they can sell fruits and vegetables, and help educate the community about healthy eating.
Chen gave up the reins of Food for Good in 2012 before moving on to her next role within PepsiCo. However, her initiative continues to grow, and it has grown into a global initiative for advancing food security, delivering millions of meals to communities in need.
In 2021, PepsiCo announced a new goal to make nutritious food accessible to 50 million people around the world by 2030 through the Food for Good program. The ambitious goal is part of the company’s pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) transformation, which has sustainability at its core. As a part of this commitment, Food for Good has already delivered more than 245 million meals to more than 41 million people around the world.
“As you start getting a lot of these blue-chip companies experimenting … I think there will be a tipping point. There’s a day when I hope we … don’t have to talk about social entrepreneurship and how [it is] different from normal business, because all business will be good business.” – Amy Chen
Amy Chen made Food For Good, a PepsiCo innovation possible. In our view, she shares the spotlight with all the other intrapreneurs who have done amazing work, be it Nitin Prajanpe at HUL, Mr. Sivakumar at ITC, or George Swenson at 3M. These are just a few and there are countless others whose efforts changed the fortunes of their organization. Want to know the reason behind their success? Effective idea capture and implementation. And you can get that for your organization too.
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