How Can Companies Contribute to a Great Cause?

My “Life’s Fab” blog is usually dedicated to all things related to advanced logic manufacturing, design enablement and IP.  For this post I’m taking a detour from the world of nanotechnology to a topic that affects everyone – reducing hunger in our local communities.

Over the past two years, Samsung Semiconductor has been a corporate partner of the Second Harvest Food Bank, which serves the heart of Silicon Valley. Samsung’s efforts have ranged from running holiday food, fund drives and matching employee donations to Second Harvest’s Share Your Lunch campaign. Our company has also been involved in devoting volunteer hours, sorting food in their warehouses, as well as sponsoring a food delivery truck.

 Last week, 44 Samsung employees donated time to help sort food.

During our visit to the Second Harvest warehouse off the Almaden Expressway in San Jose, I had an opportunity to chat with Alisa Tantraphol, corporate and foundation relations manager for Second Harvest Food Bank, about the changing face of hunger and the need for greater corporate involvement.

Ana H., Samsung Semiconductor:  With the economy inSilicon Valley not rebounding as quickly as other parts of the country and more layoffs happening, can you discuss the people Second Harvest is reaching out to today?

Alisa T., Second Harvest:  Historically, we have served the working poor. Today, we see people with college degrees, as well as former high-tech workers whose jobs were eliminated and haven’t come back to the area.  In many cases, these people are too young to retire but too old to rehire.  All of our client families make an annual income that is less than $44K per year.  That’s half of what the government says is needed to make ends meet inSilicon Valley.

Ana H.:  That’s not a description you’d expect to hear living in such an affluent area asSilicon Valley.  Can you share some statistics that would help put this in perspective?

Alisa T.:  Even in Silicon Valley, there are many families that live in what we call “food deserts” where there are no local supermarkets to buy fresh produce and meat.  These people rely on the corner quick mart where the options include processed food, which is cheaper but far less healthy.  Second Harvest serves nearly 250,000 people every month.  That’s 1 in 10 families or the equivalent of the entire populations ofSanta Clara andSunnyvale,CA.

Ana H.:  That’s a staggering number. Given the clear need for help here inSilicon Valley, what do local businesses need to know?

Alisa T.:  With federal, state, and local budget issues severely affecting non-profit community programs such as Second Harvest, the need for a social safety net is greater than ever.  Corporate giving is what will fill the gap to provide the 35 million plus meals that are currently being served in theSilicon Valley area by Second Harvest. Corporations need to pay attention to the individual economics as the face of this valley will change dramatically over the next 5 to 10 years.  For every dollar donated to Second Harvest, 95 cents is spent on programs that provide food for people in need.  Last year, Second Harvest distributed 46 million pounds of food—40% of which was fresh fruits and vegetables—to local families struggling to put food on the table.

Ana H.:  How can the corporate community help Second Harvest reduce hunger inSilicon Valley?

Alisa T.: We have 800 distribution sitesthroughout all the zip codes in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, so Second Harvest needs support at all levels. For example, volunteer hours save us $5.6M in staffing per year. Monetary donations allow Second Harvest to buy the food necessary to help feed those local families in greatest need.  Right now, we are finishing our “Share Your Lunch” campaign to make the summer a hunger-free time for local children. The Hurlbut-Johnson Fund will match all donations until Second Harvest meets its $1million dollar goal. People can make online donations to Share Your Lunch through August 15th. After that, our general donation portal is

My thanks to Alisa Tantraphol for taking the time to talk with me about the current face of hunger in Silicon Valley and how corporations can get involved and provide that social safety net. I encourage Samsung’s corporate blog readers to join us and the many other Bay Area companies that give time and money to Second Harvest to donate to this great cause. We want our kids to grow up to be a part of the high tech future at companies such as Samsung but it’s hard to focus on schoolwork without good nutrition.

If you feel strongly about alleviating hunger and the mission of Second Harvest, feel free to donate to this great cause.

Can you think of any other ways corporate tech companies can help to alleviate hunger? Feel free to share your thoughts below.