Education

The true story of how 10 million meals reached those who need it the most in Pakistan

While the coronavirus has been wreaking havoc indiscriminately in all parts of the world, it has had a ten-fold impact in most under developed countries and their large populations, paralysing already tottering health and welfare systems. In Pakistan, the outbreak is believed to have caused an economic slowdown that amounts to a staggering loss of Rs2.5 trillion, with about three million jobs likely to be lost at the very beginning; worst affected out of the country’s total population are the daily wage earners and those who inhabit the unforgiving urban slums. For years, Pakistan’s local charities have been playing a key role in stemming the economic burden on the government by providing meals, medical assistance and other key services to low-income groups. In a bid to help further their cause during these challenging times, PepsiCo, along with the organisation’s philanthropic wing, PepsiCo Foundation, vowed to extend support for these charitable organisations as part of their ‘Million of Meals’ initiative. The idea was to empower millions of dreams, disrupt millions of stereotypes, travel millions of miles to reach all corners of the country, and line millions of spreads, with a vision of providing immediate emergency disaster relief for the many vulnerable, neglected parts of Pakistan. As Covid-19 reduced access to food and other essential goods for communities around the world, PepsiCo invested more than $60 million globally, and catalysed an additional $59 million in funding from others to bring food and other vital resources to the most affected communities. The company is also providing funding for protective gear for healthcare workers, testing and screening services, and is in the process of distributing more than 100 million nutritious meals globally to at-risk populations. In Pakistan, within two months of launch, the initiative has served over 10 million meals with the help of some of the country’s most lauded charities in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Lending a hand to the government of Pakistan, PepsiCo has promised over $1.4 million worth of meals and a collaboration with Prime Minister’s Ehsaas Rashan Portal, which is run under the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division. All this was not possible without the passion, determination and drive of hundreds of volunteers, PepsiCo associates, workers and support staff, who came together from every corner of Pakistan to lend a hand to the forgotten, the ignored, and the marginalised. Empowering minority groups that are often misrepresented and marginalised in a country marred by hunger and poverty is a tough job. Add to that a global health emergency like the coronavirus outbreak and the magnitude of the challenge increases tenfold. Supported by PepsiCo, Orange Tree Foundation took on the responsibility of reaching out to thousands of vulnerable households and transgender communities in Sindh; in Thatta and Badin, Baba and Bhit Islands, Mubarak village, and in Banaras, Orangi Town, Lyari, and other neglected parts of Karachi. The organisation managed this with the help of over 50 volunteers, including a dedicated team of community reps belonging to the transgender and fisherman community.
Reaching faraway, neglected areas of Balochistan, People’s Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI) is running meal distribution drives in two phases; phase one focused on Killa Abdulla, Panjgoor, Lasbella, Quetta, and Jaffarabad, and phase two aims to include an additional 28 different districts. With each office deploying 10-15 staffers, PPHI was able to address the many challenges that stood in the way; the biggest being identification of beneficiaries via community support groups and district administration.
At the brink of a nationwide lockdown earlier this year, inhabitants of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir had a challenging question at hand: will there be food on the tables if their towns are shut indefinitely? Stretched across Pakistan’s most breathtaking landscapes, the provinces offer unparalleled peace, beauty and warmth to their inhabitants, but limited opportunities of safe and sustainable income; most underprivileged people here are pushed to survive on daily wages, with scarce resources to counter difficult living conditions. To reach out to these communities, organisations like Al-Khidmat, Mehnaz Fatima Foundation and National Rural Support Program (NRSP) stepped forward. Since most of these households are located in hilly areas, transportation of goods remained one of the key struggles in the process. With the help of around 500 volunteers, these three organisations transported meals to many cities, including Swabi, Peshawar, Charsadda, Mardan, Buner, Malakand, upper and lower Dir, Dera Ismail Khan, Astore and Gilgit, and 10 districts of AJK, including Bagh, Bhimber, Hattian, Haveli, Kotli, Mirpur, Muzaffarabad, Neelum, Poonch and Sudhnoti. For the rest of the world, Covid-19 brought with itself heaps of a deadly virus that harmed their healthcare systems. But for the developing world, the biggest challenge that surfaced was hunger and food insecurity. Leveraging technology, Rizq Foundation joined hands with the Millions of Meals initiative, and registered millions of empty plates on an app and began distributing meals. While most human welfare work on the outside looks like simple math equations, the process on the inside is much different. On the very first day of work, Rizq realised there were plenty of obstacles awaiting response; price fluctuations in the market because people across the country were busy panic-buying and hoarding essentials, and the possibility of duplication of assistance in the selected areas as tons of other non-governmental organisations sprouted to lend a hand. To work this out and ensure transparency, the organisation collaborated with all existing non-governmental organisations in the said areas, and with the help of a specialised app, recorded and shared data, registered all beneficiaries and assigned them QR codes. This ensured accuracy of delivery, and prevented double-counting and misallocation.
Apart from the NGOs and the volunteers, the ‘Millions of Meals’ initiative is also supported whole-heartedly internally by PepsiCo associates. Many PepsiCo employees donated generously to add more meals for the programme. To facilitate and grow this drive even more, the PepsiCo Foundation announced a generous ‘Double Match Program’, which means that for every Rupee donated by a PepsiCo associate, another two Rupees will be donated by the PepsiCo Foundation.

“Our global employee engagement programs have helped scale the impact of our strategic alliances to deliver more meals in our surrounding communities. PepsiCo Employees want to support trusted, local partners they are passionate about. Our matching gifts program is designed to inspire, energize, and enhance connectivity among our associates at all levels.” – Silvia Cruz-Vargas, Social Impact Director, PepsiCo

The combined power of the associates and the PepsiCo Foundation has enabled distribution of an additional 330,000 meals across Pakistan. Pakistan is the land of hopes, aspirations and many triumphs, with which come challenges aplenty. The ‘Millions of Meals’ initiative is rooted in PepsiCo’s global vision of ‘Winning with Purpose’, which is the organisation’s promise to do all to save the planet and its many communities. PepsiCo’s partnership aims to continue its support for charitable organisations that provide millions of meals to millions of communities, helping them ward off hunger caused by complete and partial economic inactivity in various parts of the country due to the pandemic. The combined power of the associates and the PepsiCo Foundation has enabled distribution of an additional 330,000 meals across Pakistan. Pakistan is the land of hopes, aspirations and many triumphs, with which come challenges aplenty. The ‘Millions of Meals’ initiative is rooted in PepsiCo’s global vision of ‘Winning with Purpose’, which is the organisation’s promise to do all to save the planet and its many communities. PepsiCo’s partnership aims to continue its support for charitable organisations that provide millions of meals to millions of communities, helping them ward off hunger caused by complete and partial economic inactivity in various parts of the country due to the pandemic.
On-ground partners.
On-ground partners.

“In the wake of this unprecedented global crisis, PepsiCo is at the forefront of providing assistance to the most vulnerable communities across the world. Within Pakistan, Our ‘Millions of Meals’ program has now reached out to communities in all provinces of Pakistan and supporting them with the day to day nutrition needs. We have identified capable partners who are doing an amazing job in accessing those in need. These are hard times for our country but we are a resilient nation and together we will overcome this challenge” – Mr Furqan Ahmed Syed, CEO PepsiCo Pakistan and Afghanistan.

To sustain these efforts, the company has announced an investment of Rs775 million ($5million approximately) for its multifaceted social impact programs in Pakistan for a total of three years. And the journey has only begun. The next phases of the campaign are already underway; paving a path to millions more meals and smiles in near future. To sustain these efforts, the company has announced an investment of Rs775 million ($5million approximately) for its multifaceted social impact programs in Pakistan for a total of three years. And the journey has only begun. The next phases of the campaign are already underway; paving a path to millions more meals and smiles in near future. Source – Dawn News