Bringing well-being to the community
Advancing communities and social progress
SunOpta's global presence gives the company a unique opportunity to bring well-being to life in diverse communities. As part of its purpose to bring healthy food from field to table, SunOpta focuses on opportunities to improve health and education in the communities in which it operates. SunOpta empowers its employees to enrich lives by supporting their involvement in community volunteerism efforts and providing the opportunity to participate in organized community improvement initiatives.
Key Performance Metrics
Giving back to the community
SunOpta is dedicated to bringing positive change in the communities in which it does business by supporting employee efforts to enrich lives. In 2015, 80% of SunOpta facilities and offices participated in efforts to bring well-being to life in local communities. SunOpta is working to support local communities in several ways, including:
Seven Hill Run
In the fall of 2015, a group of employees from Tradin Organic, SunOpta's global sourcing operation based in Amsterdam, raised over €1,800 by participating in the annual Zevenheuvelenloop (Seven Hill Run) in Nijmegen, Netherlands. The fundraising event supported the Suke Quto School Project in Ethiopia. Nearly 1,000 students attend the Suke Quto School, which is located near a coffee plantation from which Tradin sources organic coffee as part of its Trabocca division.
Art in the Park
SunOpta's Omak, Washington facility sponsored Art in the Park in 2015, a signature event for the community of Omak and the surrounding region. The event draws over 2,000 visitors to the beautiful Civic League Park. In addition to being a major tourism draw, Art in the Park serves as an annual fundraiser for the Omak Kiwanis Club. The event features artists, craftsmen, food vendors and entertainment professionals from across Omak, Washington state and the Pacific Northwest during a two-day event. Funds raised through Art in the Park are used to support a variety of opportunities for children in Omak through the Kiwanis Youth Services fund.
The Omak Facility also participated in Relay for Life, raising money to support lifesaving cancer research. Employees at the facility participate in the races while also holding bake sales and car washes.
Supporting Local Food Banks
Staff in SunOpta's office in Edina, Minnesota have numerous opportunities to participate in efforts to support local food banks, including food drives and volunteer opportunities packing bulk food. One food drive held in the Edina office collected over 600 pounds of food for a local food bank.
SunOpta is proud of the dedication, commitment and passion its employees have for giving back to communities. SunOpta encourages employees to use up to three days of paid-time-off (PTO) to volunteer in service to their communities. Since the launch of SunOpta's Volunteerism Program in 2012, the number of hours employees volunteer has increased ten-fold. The Employee Volunteerism Program makes it easy for employees to volunteer with a charity or cause of their choice using paid time off from work. SunOpta employees volunteered the equivalent of 120 days in their communities in 2015, supporting local charities and events in an effort to bring well-being to life.
Examples of how SunOpta employees are volunteering in their communities include:
Ann Brandenberger (Wahpeton, North Dakota) volunteered at the 27th Annual Rosholt Threshing Bee a weekend event sponsored by the Rosholt Area Threshermen's Association. The event reenacts the golden days of farming using 19th Century equipment, including steam powered threshing implements. Ann volunteered with her aunt to run the Popcorn Shack, which raises funds for the event.
SunOpta staff in Alexandria, Minnesota were very generous with their time in 2015, racking up an impressive 137 volunteer hours. Staff in Alexandria participated in dozens of events to support local organizations, including Stamp Out Illiteracy, Stuff the Bus (a drive to raise school supplies for economically disadvantaged youth), Polar Plunge, several food drives and many more events and activities.
Jeremy Kendall Environmental and Social Responsibility Awards
Since 2007 SunOpta has awarded $167,500 in scholarships to dependents of employees as part of the Jeremy Kendall Environmental and Social Responsibility Awards. Jeremy Kendall served 31 years as Chairman of the Board of Directors, 24 years as Chief Executive Officer and retired as a Director in May 2016. He is passionate about education and giving back to the community. SunOpta administers the Jeremy Kendall Environmental and Social Responsibility Awards in honor of his contributions to the company and community. Scholarships are awarded to assist eligible dependents of SunOpta employees with expenses related to post-secondary education.
In 2015, scholarships totaling $20,000 were awarded to eligible dependents in the amounts of $1,000 to $2,500. Scholarships are awarded after a competitive application process, based on the student's contributions to their community and involvement with social and environmental responsibility initiatives. Through the Jeremy Kendall Environmental and Social Responsibility Awards, SunOpta encourages future leaders to pursue higher education.