Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Supporting hunger, youth and communities at Schwan’s

By Theresa Zaske
Community Relations Manager

April 17, 2018 — You can find a lot of information on “community relations” these days. A quick click on Google generates more than 9.5 million results on the phrase.

One topic that comes up often is the increasing importance of community relations to success in business and the relevance it has with employees and customers. Many organizations recognize this and find ways to give back and enable their employees to volunteer at organizations important to their communities.

This week, millions across the country will recognize National Volunteer Week and celebrate those who selflessly give up their time to support their communities.

As the community relations manager at Schwan’s, I feel extremely grateful to play a role in opening doors for our Schwan’s team members and the Schwan’s Corporate Giving Foundation in the action of giving back.

“Helping one another” was a value long espoused by the company’s founder, Marvin Schwan. Long before it was fashionable, long before it became a business imperative, being involved in the communities where employees and customers live and work has been at the heart of our company.

While our focus has changed through the years, being engaged in our communities has always been a part of who we are. In our latest efforts, we’ve concentrated on the following areas:

  • Hunger. We’ve maintained a partnership with Feeding America and its affiliated food banks and food agencies. Since 2011, we’ve donated millions of pounds of food and our employees have enjoyed donating hundreds of hours of volunteer time at affiliate food banks.
  • Youth leadership. Schwan’s and the Schwan’s Corporate Giving Foundation have supported youth with scholarships and organizational programs that encourage students to work on entrepreneurial projects as well as food and leadership education. The foundation supports scholarships for employees’ children and with support from Schwan’s Corporate Giving Foundation, the University of Minnesota has been able to expand its WILL (Women in Leadership and Learning) program from one student athlete team to more than half the female athletes at the U. In addition, Schwan’s Learning & Development team built specific curriculum and more than two-dozen leaders from Schwan’s Women’s Network have served as mentors to the students.
  • Building healthier communities. At Schwan’s, we work closely with community members to determine the best way we can help. In some communities, employees have been active in volunteering to raise funds for the United Way. At our corporate locations in Bloomington, and Marshall, Minnesota, employees have raised more than $1 million through our Jean Day program over the years for charities close to home. And, many charitable organizations take advantage of our Schwan’s Cares™ fundraising program. Employees around the country also raised funds following hurricane strikes near our facilities.

Later this year, we’ll launch a website for our employees which will show detailed information about our charitable partners and ways in which departments and employee teams can volunteer with local organizations that are focused on our goals around hunger, youth leadership and building healthier communities.

In the meantime, I’m proud to be a part of a company that has long recognized and worked hard to support our larger employee communities with meaningful dollars and volunteer opportunities and that allows local organizations around the country to raise money with our products for smaller, local organizations.

Editor’s note: This week, millions across the country are celebrating volunteerism and those who selflessly give up their time to support their communities. To reflect on our own efforts at Schwan’s and what volunteerism means for us, we asked our Community Relations Manager Theresa Zaske to share her thoughts on the topic and how we are working to support the communities that support us.

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