Campbell’s Investment and the Evolution of the Collective

When the Campbell Soup Company launched the Healthy Communities Initiative in 2011, it had a long-term vision that the program would evolve into something more significant than the iconic company alone could achieve.

The company, which has called Camden home for more than 150 years, cares deeply about the community and wants to make a lasting impact through a sustainable program for its residents.

That resulted in a commitment from Campbell’s of 10 years and $10 million, to reduce childhood hunger and obesity.

At the time, an estimated 13 percent of Camden’s residents were living below the poverty line. One grocery store, a few smaller stores, and a network of corner stores created the local food system. Because of its lack of access to healthy food, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority considered Camden a food desert.

When Campbell’s considered where to focus its efforts, it leaned heavily on its expertise: food.

Understanding that one organization would not be able to change hunger and improve the health of Camden’s residents single-handedly, it developed Campbell’s Healthy Communities with a collective impact framework.

The company worked with multiple organizations to develop an approach focused on four strategic areas: food access, nutrition education, physical activity, and public will to engage the community, which was critical to delivering on the program’s mission.

Campbell’s Healthy Communities’ key partners included the Food Bank of South Jersey, The Food Trust, Wellness in Schools, Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, FoodCorps, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, The Greater Philadelphia YMCA, Center for Environmental Transformation, KIPP New Jersey, and Center for Family Services.

Throughout its 10 years, the Healthy Communities Initiative had great success. Some critical impacts of the program included:

Food Access

  • Created the largest network of healthy corner stores in New Jersey
  • Incorporated food insecurity screenings into hospitals

Nutrition Education

  • Expanded national, evidence-based Cooking Matters™ nutrition education classes
  • Created a culture of health across KIPP Camden Schools by placing FoodCorps service members within the schools

Physical Activity

  • Launched the first city-wide after-school sports program, Soccer for Success

Public Will

  • Integrated the voice of local youth into program strategy development through the Camden Youth Advisory Council
  • Engaged residents in issue identification and brainstorming solutions

As 10 years came to an end, the Healthy Communities partners brainstormed about how they could continue the success of the program, using what they had learned and joining together more community members, partners, funders, and government agencies.

The group went back to the idea of a collective impact approach.

The next iteration of the collective would focus on the root causes of food insecurity in the city of Camden – an area of continued need after 10 years of Healthy Communities.  Thus, the Camden Food Security Collective (CFSC) was born.

“Our partners came together to determine the sustainability plan after the formal end of the Healthy Communities program,” said Kate Barrett, President of The Campbell’s Foundation. “They determined that addressing the underlying causes of food insecurity was the biggest priority that this group was uniquely positioned to tackle.”

Campbell’s knew the importance of the community taking the lead. Its legacy would be to take a successful program, bring together nonprofit organizations that were working in the same arena toward a similar outcome, and root the CFSC in the community.

“Campbell’s is proud to have served as the initial funder of the CFSC, work that emerged from Campbell’s Healthy Communities; however, this new initiative has truly been led by the partners and residents of Camden who are best equipped to determine what is needed and how to use the funds to create a lasting impact in the city,” said Barrett.

As CFSC launched around a shared vision and objectives developed by many partners in the community, Campbell’s investment has spurred additional support from other organizations to address food security in Camden. Today, Collective members and dedicated investors are coming together to help improve food access in Camden to create sustainable change for years to come.

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