Philanthropic Foodies

While many food companies are focusing their energies on their consumers' health concerns, Chobani and RUNA remind us that it is key to give back to the community at large as well.

In the health food revolution that is sweeping America, food companies are increasingly targeting consumer health concerns by turning out new food products that are organic, non-GMO, and gluten free. Among these companies are the esteemed Chobani yogurt and the up-and-coming RUNA energy drinks. These companies are not only dedicated to enriching their consumer’s personal health, but are additionally pledging profits and aid in order to improve communal and environmental health through unique philanthropic initiatives.

America’s #1 selling yogurt brand, Chobani, has been fully committed to giving back to the community through two philanthropy initiatives: the Shepherd’s Gift Foundation and Sing for Hope. Established by Chobani’s CEO and founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, the Shepherd’s Gift Foundation gives ten percent of Chobani’s profits annually to a variety of causes. The foundation was created based off of the legends and history of shepherds’ generosity. In donating to a variety of causes – a local one being D.C. Central Kitchen – Chobani is able to reach and support many different people. With that spirit, Chobani’s Shepherd’s Gift Foundation partnered with Sing for Hope, Inc.’s Pop Up Pianos project. The project set up 88 pianos, each hand painted by a different artist, throughout New York City’s five boroughs from June 1st – 16th. Chobani’s involvements in this public outreach program are a testament to their efforts in nurturing more than just their consumers, but the community at large as well.

Similarly, RUNA, a creative new tea company, is setting their sights on providing health benefits to their consumers and the community of RUNA’s origin. More than just a tea company, RUNA boasts “clean energy” by promoting their caffeine-rich tea leaf, Guayusa, in the forms of iced tea, “loose leaf tea”, and an energy drink. Guayasa’s health benefits surpass those of any other tea company by having two-times more antioxidants than green tea, and 90mg of caffeine – that is 15mg more than a Starbucks espresso and 10mg more than Red Bull. As noted on their website, Guayusa is an Amazonian “super leaf” from Ecuador that is being grown in biodiverse forest gardens. Using their product as an economic incentive to protect the rainforest, RUNA has made it their goal to help the Ecuadorian community through various aspects, including: creating and supporting the livelihoods of over 2,000 indigenous Amazonian farmers, investing over $20,000 a year in community development, and planting over 150,000 trees each year. In doing so, RUNA is giving back to the Guayusa tea leaf’s natural home.

Chobani and RUNA have set prime examples for all other companies in demonstrating that their philanthropic efforts exceed the health benefits of their consumers. While the current food revolution is highly focused on the health of the consumers, it is equally important to nurture the nature from which our food is coming from.

By Carolina Cordon-Bouzan 


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