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COVID-19 has affected each and every one of us in one way or another. As a result of the pandemic, the number of people affected by hunger is expected to increase from 820 Million people worldwide to over 1 Billion, also impacting those vulnerable to illness and disease. We sat down with Barry Mattson, CEO and Karen Sanders Noe, Account Executive from Rise Against Hunger and Nish Parkar, Communications Manager and G Walker, Engagement Manager from Cisco to hear how they ‘gathered for good’ and raised tens of thousands of dollars to support the mission of ending hunger.

How did Cisco come to support Rise Against Hunger’s mission of ending hunger?

Barry: We have partnered with Cisco for seven years, working together to end global hunger and transform lives. We first packaged meals together with Cisco HQ teams in San Jose in 2013. Since then, Cisco has nourished over 12,000 lives around the world as well as supported our mission in so many other ways. They supported our expansion in the Bay Area and helped establish our Rise Against Hunger India office in 2015.

 

G: Yes, and I’m proud to play a role in our partnership over the past few years. As Barry mentioned, local teams have been getting together in offices to package meals, and we recently hit the 2.5 Million meal milestone. Giving back to our communities is embedded in Cisco’s Conscious Culture, and we support incredible organizations such as Rise Against Hunger with dollar matching campaigns and by helping organizations to respond to emergencies including the COVID-19 pandemic.

What was the impact of COVID-19 on the communities that Rise Against Hunger supports? 

Barry: COVID-19 impacted all parts of our operations; our team members are all now working virtually and our volunteers have had to postpone their meal packaging events. This has resulted in a depletion of Rise Against Hunger’s meal inventory impacting over 2 Million of our meal recipients. We knew we needed to rethink the way we support the communities we serve. We implemented the COVID-19 Relief & Resilience Plan, which ensures continued nutritional support of the people we serve as we slowly resume our meal packaging events. We’re providing short-term grants to our in-country partners to purchase food locally as we continue our work to empower communities through sustainable agriculture training. Funding these projects is critical, but we need help from our volunteers to do so. Engaging with our volunteers took new shapes during stay-at-home restrictions. This is where we engaged with Cisco.

What was the idea? Where did the idea come from?

Nish: Yes, our entire global Security Sales team of 1500+ people are based all around the world and are staying at home per local guidelines as a result of the pandemic. At Cisco, it’s in our DNA to give back and support our communities and we saw an opportunity to bring the team together during this challenging time. To fundraise for Rise Against Hunger, we held three virtual “Trivia Night” events via Cisco Webex for the entire team, testing their general knowledge and, of course, the amazing work of Rise Against Hunger.

 

Karen: Yes, the events were so much fun and were a win for both partners! Cisco was able to offer a virtual team-building experience and engage in a fun trivia game while simultaneously giving back to a good cause. Rise Against Hunger had the opportunity to thank Cisco employees for their partnership, underscore the lives they have impacted and provide an inspiring overview of our work. The key to success is the partnership, ability to virtually connect the team, and a shared passion for nourishing lives.

 

What was the outcome?

Nish: We raised over $23,000 USD for Rise Against Hunger, which will go a long way in supporting their incredible work. The team was also energized and excited to see each other and got competitive on the quiz, while knowing they are giving back to communities around the world. It’s amazing to think that we raised this money with just three one-hour virtual events accommodating all time zones and with few resources.

G: I find that audiences are especially willing to support when we make things simple and easy for them. Often, people think that packaging meals is the only way to support Rise Against Hunger. That is not the case at all. The financial contributions we were able to collect allow Rise Against Hunger to fund local farms, clean water projects, and educational outreach. And, we were able to have a lot of fun in the process! Partnering with Rise Against Hunger is so simple and they are always eager to try new things. 

What’s next for both Rise Against Hunger and Cisco?

Nish: At Cisco, we will be looking into how we can expand this virtual ‘Gathering for Good’ idea across our broader teams. I’m excited for what we do next and to spread the word about our partnership with Rise Against Hunger!

Barry: I’m excited too, Nish! At Rise Against Hunger, we continue to look for new ways to engage and inspire people to help end global hunger. We know that by coming together, including virtually, our volunteers have the opportunity to learn and be involved with our work. We know that we are not going to end hunger as one organization alone but through partnerships like we have Cisco, we can work together to problem-solve and take action.  

Do you want to learn more about this virtual employee engagement event? This virtual team building and trivia event is ready to be customized for your organization and needs very few resources. Email info@riseagainsthunger.org today to learn more.

Our meal packaging program has provided over 530 million meals and in 2019, we supported 1.8 million people around the world. Join us today!

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