The check could have been in the mail, but that would have prevented Hormel® Natural Choice® brand team from demonstrating once again what they – and the brand they represent – are all about. So, instead, team members got on their bicycles, dividing up portions of a 220-mile journey in order to deliver much-needed funds in person.
Matt Lewis was one of them. The category sales manager for the Natural Choice® brand joined five of his Hormel Foods team members, cycling from the company’s Corporate Office in Austin, Minn., to the chapter headquarters of the Juvenile Diabetes Relief Fund (JDRF) in Des Moines, Iowa. He logged about 80 miles in honor of someone special. His sister-in-law Liz lost her battle with Type 1 diabetes last year.
The fundraising and bikeathon efforts were yet another installment in the Natural Choice® brand team’s Good Feeds Us All Tour. In April 2020, team members hitched their proverbial wagon to Hy-Vee to increase awareness of (and funds for) the organization focused on Type 1 diabetes, the form that presents in children. That included donating 10 cents to JDRF for every unit of Hormel® Natural Choice® lunch meat shipped to participating Hy-Vee stores from April 1 through July 31. The gift totaled $20,000.
“Our mission … is to continue to do good in the world. We saw Hy-Vee doing some really great work with this partner. And so, together we decided to pool our resources and make this donation,” says Beth Fehrenbacher, senior manager of the Natural Choice® brand.
Katie Dobes is one who is thankful. Her young daughter Alison was diagnosed with the disease when she was just 15 months old. Katie and her husband, Scott, were stunned and scared by the news. Then they attended their first JDRF meeting, where they learned about the organization’s programs and its mission to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. More than anything, the Dobes family was grateful for the support they found.
“Having a child with a chronic illness … that’s something that is very real. You feel like this is kind of your own personal struggle. But to know that other people are dealing with this, and they are living a normal life, is a huge encouragement to us,” Katie Dobes says.
According to Brand Manager Sam Hovland, that gets to the heart of the collaboration with JDRF. “The Natural Choice® brand is all about healthy, natural foods. JDRF is about combating this awful illness. So we partnered,” she says.
And that meant going the distance, literally speaking.
Hormel® Natural Choice® brand team members had no interest in mailing the check. Instead, they took it with them when they participated in JDRF’s MyRide, a fundraiser that this year replaced the organization’s long-standing and in-person Ride to Cure Diabetes.
The Good Feeds Us All Tour also began before the dawn of COVID-19. By shifting gears, team members have found ways to keep the tour moving forward, despite the need to stay close to home. For example, in July, they worked long distance with USO to stage a family night – complete with drive-in movie and Natural Choice® snacks – for those based at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia.
“The Good Feeds Us All campaign is rooted in good food and good causes, and just putting more good in the world,” says Hovland. Not even a pandemic can change that.
“We’ve been able to do some amazing events to help people in the community, to combine our brand with what we love to see going on in the world.”