Column: Arby’s giving $3M to help feed hungry kids in Georgia
By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, January 11, 2013
The Arby’s Foundation is driving a stake in the ground to end childhood hunger in Georgia.
The company announced at a Jan. 10 press conference at the state Capitol it is making its largest grant ever — $3 million over three years — to the Georgia Food Bank Association to work with other state partners on the “Feeding for a Promising Future — No Kid Hungry” campaign.
The Arby’s Foundation hopes Georgia will develop a model to combat childhood hunger that can be replicated across the country.
Nationally, 1 in 5 children do not get the nutrition they need, said Hala Moddelmog, president of the Arby’s Restaurant Group. In Georgia, 1 in 4hildren don’t get the nutrition they need.
Moddelmog, who has worked in both the private and nonprofit sectors, has been instrumental in reinvigorating the Arby’s Foundation, strengthening its board and focusing its efforts.
Tackling childhood hunger has become the signature cause for the company’s foundation. The problem of childhood hunger “has such tremendous implications for the country and for its children” in terms of lifelong health and educational success, Moddelmog said.
The $3 million grant will help develop partnerships to make sure children will have access to food especially during after-school hours and during the summer.
Danah Craft, executive director of the Georgia Food Bank Association, said that nationally only 40 percent of children who receive free or subsidized lunches in school have access to food after school hours, on weekends and during the summer.
In Georgia, that number drops to less than 15 percent, according to Craft.
“What we know is that the food is there and it’s available, but we just can’t get the kids to have access to it,” Craft said.
Because Arby’s is based in Atlanta, it made sense to launch the major initiative in Georgia.
“We felt this state had all the pieces,” said Kate Atwood, president of the Arby’s Foundation. “It just needed a corporate partner to step up to the plate.”
The issue of childhood hunger is such a big issue that it was “almost daunting”to take on the issue nationally.
“Our strategic planning process pointed to our home state. Let’s magnify and accelerate what we can do in Georgia,” Atwood said. “We saw it as a way to put a stake in this fight.”
In terms of the health of children, Georgia ranks as the sixth-worst among the nation’s states.
“We want Georgia to be on the top of the list of best states,” Atwood said.
Bill Bolling, founder and executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, is one of the new leaders who has joined the board of the Arby’s Foundation. Even more important than the $3 million gift is the fact that Arby’s wants to “infuse the culture of the whole company” around the effort to end childhood hunger.
Among the other members now on the Foundation’s board: Linda Matzigkeit, chief administrative officer of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta; Claire “Yum” Arnold, CEO of Leapfrog Services; Ed Baker, publisher of Atlanta Business Chronicle; Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association; William Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau; and several top executives in the Arby’s family.
“Hala has been the catalyst to drive all this change,” Atwood said. “She saw it as an opportunity to use the foundation to be more of an asset for the brand.”
In addition to the foundation’s $3 million grant, Arby’s and its customers nationally have contributed $5 million over the past two years to help end childhood hunger.
Ann Cramer joins Coxe Curry
Just weeks after retiring from IBM Corp., community leader Ann Cramer has landed in a new post. Cramer will become a senior consultant at fundraising consulting firm Coxe Curry & Associates.
“I may have left my job at IBM but I continue to do the job with people I have worked with for years,” Cramer said. “There’s too much work to do.”
Cramer said she will continue to be involved with numerous organizations — especially those involved with education and the arts.
“Ann Cramer is an institution in Atlanta,” said Ann Curry, president of Coxe Curry & Associates. “She represents the best of good corporate citizenship and community caring. There could be no better place for the next iteration of those passions than Coxe Curry.”
New chair at Giving Institute
David H. King, president and CEO of the Alexander Haas fundraising firm, has been elected chair of the Giving Institute: Leading Counsel to Nonprofits for the 2013-2014 term.
The Giving Institute, formerly known as the American Association of Fundraising Counsel (AAFRC), has 41 member firms that are the leading fundraising consulting firms in North America. The Giving Institute provides shared experiences for executives of its member firms who can become leaders in philanthropy.
King has been with Alexander Haas for 22 years.
Budget institute adds to board
The influential Georgia Budget and Policy Institute has added two new leaders to its board — Kathy Ashe and Russell Hinton.
Ashe, who was first elected to the Georgia House in 1991, has just retired from the legislature. She also is a former teacher, an active community leader, a mother and a volunteer.
Hinton served as Georgia’s state auditor from 1999 to 2012. He joined the state’s Department of Audits and Accounts in 1974, serving in position of increasing responsibilities until becoming the state auditor.
“Kathy and Russell are fantastic additions to our board, and we are lucky to have them,” said Alan Essig, executive director of the nonprofit research organization. “Georgia lawmakers will face very tough spending choices in 2013. Our policy recommendations will be strengthened by the guidance these two subject experts will give us.”