Dow AgroSciences Hunger Solutions Network: 5 years of Impact
At an early age, I decided that I would choose a life path that, in some way, serves others and the greater good. As a result, I’ve had many volunteer experiences. I participated in a medical mission to the Dominican Republic, taught Zambian police departments about forensic science and led borehole water projects in Zimbabwe. Every experience has broadened my perspective reminded me what I take for granted. I believe every human should have access to the most basic needs to lead a productive and fulfilled life, and to me those are water and food.
In 2011, Craig Hansen (a now-retired Dow AgroSciences employee) convened a group of employees who were passionate about making an impact to improve food security. This aligned well with my personal mission and I couldn’t wait to get involved. The group believed that, as one of the leading agriculture companies in the world, Dow AgroSciences employees have the skills, talent and passion to develop solutions for one of the greatest humanitarian challenges in the world - hunger.
Inspired to make a difference, the team began by forming partnerships with organizations that were already making a purposeful and lasting impact to improve food security. This created immediate opportunities for Dow AgroSciences employees to get involved, and it allowed the team to identify new ways to contribute. What started as a small effort grew into a network made up of more than 480 engaged employees and 10 partner organizations, now known as Hunger Solutions Network (HSN).
It’s amazing how broad and pervasive the network has become. Now Dow AgroSciences employees contribute to eight local community support initiatives focused on alleviating hunger in the Indianapolis area. Globally, the network established five collaborations in developing countries and is working to leverage employees' expertise to improve food security around the world.
The growth of the network reinforces how immense and complex the problem of food insecurity continues to be. According to a recent study released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Indiana has seen an increase in households reporting low or very low food security. The study found that from 2013-2015, 14.8 percent of Indiana households faced inconsistent access to nutritious, high quality food. That is an increase from 13.5 percent in 2010-2012 (United States Department of Agriculture 2015). Globally, 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy, active life. That equates to 1 out of 9 people who suffer from chronic hunger worldwide (World Food Program 2016).
The vision of Hunger Solutions Network is to have a measurable impact on hunger in underserved communities both locally and globally. The network has now been making an impact for more than five years. Through the teamwork of partners and committed volunteers, more than 19,000 hours have been contributed toward initiatives to improve food security. At Dow AgroSciences, we believe every person deserves the opportunity to lead a productive and fulfilled life, free of hunger.
Read below to learn more about how HSN is making an impact. If you’d like to volunteer you time and talents to improve food security there are many opportunities through the local and global organizations Dow AgroSciences has partnered with.
Community Support Initiatives (Greater Indianapolis Area):
Indy Hunger Network: Employees contribute their expertise in leadership, six sigma, analytics, logistics and project management to help the Indy Hunger Network (a coalition of anti-hunger organizations) accomplish its goals of reducing food insecurity. Through grants, Dow AgroSciences supported 10 local food pantries to significantly increase their food capacity with the addition of 16 freezers/refrigerators
Crooked Creek Food Pantry: Dow AgroSciences HSN partnered with St. Vincent de Paul and Eskenazi Health to establish the Crooked Creek Food Pantry (501c3 tax-exempt non-profit) in Pike Township, an area previously designated as a food desert. Today the pantry serves food to approximately 250 households per week (more than 1200 individuals).
- Harvest for Hunger Garden: Dow AgroSciences employees established and cultivate a volunteer garden on campus to address the lack of fresh produce available at local food pantries. In three years, employees have grown over 12,000 in the Dow AgroSciences garden and donated it to local food pantries, translating to over 25,000 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Million Meals Marathon – HSN partners with Million Meal Movement to coordinate one of the largest single day, annual employee volunteer and engagement activities, in which more than 300 employees work together to package over 50,000 meals. Over the past 4 years Dow AgroSciences employees have packaged more than 200,000 meals to support hungry families in Indiana.
Agriculture Collaborations in Developing Countries (Global):
- AMPATH: HSN partnered with AMPATH, an organization addressing the short and long-term challenges of global health. HSN initiated a six-month rotation program in which a Dow AgroSciences employee works with small holder farmers in Kenya to improve food security. To date, 4 employee rotations have been completed.
- CABI Plantwise: HSN partnered with CABI plantwise to improve rural livelihoods by reducing crop losses. The organization set up 1800 plant clinics in 34 countries. Farmers visit with samples of their crops, and trained plant doctors diagnose the problem and make science-based recommendations on ways to manage it. HSN has provided strategic visioning and technology infrastructure for plant doctors. In addition employees translate plant fact sheets from English to Spanish, Chinese, Swahili and Portuguese.
- BioSciences for eastern and central Africa (BecA): Dow AgroSciences scientists partnered with BecA scientists to improve laboratory technologies and enable projects in the lab that result in variety improvement in the field. Dow AgroSciences scientists and plant breeders work with BecA plant breeders to develop strategies for increasing genetic gain for yield and to increase nutritional value.
- African Women in Agriculture Research and Development (AWARD) – Dow AgroSciences HSN provides professional development opportunities at Indianapolis headquarters and at breeding stations for African Women Scientists and Leaders to enhance leadership skills and scientific acumen. To date HSN has hosted 5 AWARD fellows.
- Dow AgroSciences Visiting Scientists Program – Dow AgroSciences hosts a small cohort of Visiting Scientists annually for a 1 month visit to Indy HQ to participate in customized training program fit to individual interests with both technical and soft skill emphasis. This contributes to the improved scientific and leadership capacity within African Agricultural Institutions. To date 15 Scientists have participated in the program.
World Food Programme. Hunger Statistics. State of Food Security in the World, FOA, 2015
United States Department of Agriculture. Household Food Security in the United States in 2015, ERR-215. Economic Research Service/USDA. Page 22.
Dan Randolph joined Dow AgroSciences in 2011 as a Molecular Biologist in the Traits, Genetics and Technologies laboratories supporting the Seeds business. He is currently serving as an External Technology Leader for Seeds R&D. Dan earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Indiana University and Masters Degree in Biology from Purdue University, Indianapolis.