YUM Brands and The World’s Largest CSR Project


It has been a while since I've written anything about Corporate Social Responsibility, but my attention has been focused there the past few weeks as I have watched Yum Brands based right here in Louisville, KY, launch what may be the largest CSR project ever undertaken by a public company. What is it all about? According to Nick Huhn of Yum, it's about the world's largest food company partnering with the world's largest hunger relief effort. The press release about the push can be read here.

Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM), parent of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, today launched the world's largest hunger relief effort in an attempt to help stop world hunger. Called "World Hunger Relief Week," the program supports the United Nations World Food Programme, the frontline agency in the fight against global hunger. During October 14-20, 35,000 company and franchised restaurants located in 112 countries will be participating in some way, including KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Long John Silver's and A&W All-American Food.

More than 850 million people know what it is like to go to bed hungry in all corners of the globe. More people die from hunger each year than from war, tuberculosis and AIDS combined. In fact, every five seconds, a child somewhere dies from hunger.

The company partnered with the U.N. World Food Programme, the world's leading humanitarian agency feeding 90 million poor people, including 58 million hungry children, in 80 of the world's poorest communities.

I tend to be skeptical of these types of corporate projects, but Yum employees have really supported this effort, donating money and time to help make a difference. Regardless of your philosophical views on CSR, this project is interesting because Yum seems to be walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

The company has set up a blog called From Hunger to Hope to chronicle the project. It includes lots of pictures and videos and I think it's an excellent example of a company using new media to engage the public. I would love to see more of that among large companies.

The ultimate judgment on whether or not this is a good idea will be determined by the final results. Can YUM make a difference? Should YUM try to make a difference? Feel free to leave your kudos or your complaints in the post comments.

  • Thanks for bringing more attention to our global hunger relief appeal, Rob. To answer the hypothetical questions you posed at the end of the post, I received an email from Mario Fetz, WFP’s director of private donor relations in Rome that may have some answers… [message below]

  • Why not pay a dividend but give shareholders the option of having it paid to this effort instead of directly to them?

    Of course the World Food Programme is glad Yum made this donation….but do we really want to entrust our charitable activities to the corporations that we invest in? Isn’t charity more personal than that for most of us?

    As a Yum shareholder, I would have much rather been paid the dividend so that I could give it to the local charity that I know and trust myself…and let the company repair its image issues by making stores cleaner and food healthier…rather than by giving shareholder money to an organization that we had no part in researching or selecting.

  • dennis

    Great concept, however, as evrything else it comes down to the quality of execution and would franchisees be as committed to the project as Yum appears to be. In my market I see the collection boxes in store; but it sits there like the “collection cans” you commonly see. I have never been alerted to it by staff and only the POS is “selling” the programme now. I also have not seen any PR or advertising support to drive awareness and encourage donations…so 10 for idea; 2.5 for execution, dr