Pepperidge Farm, a company nationally acclaimed for its baked goods, has been headquartered in Norwalk, Conn. for the past half-century. So when the city needs help, the company has a responsibility to lend a hand, says Ruthann Walsh, the director of corporate citizenship.
When the opportunity arose for the company to join forces with the Greater Norwalk Regional Alliance to Prevent and End Homelessness, the decision to take part in the cause was a “no-brainer,” she said.
“Pepperidge Farm is one of the oldest members of the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce. It’s heartbreaking to think people in our backyard could be homeless.”
Although the Wilton resident says it’s still early to determine what is most needed, one way she and Pepperidge Farm might aid the 10-year plan is by lending company resources. For example, she and her team might designate employees as mentors to residents of local homeless shelters to help them get back on their feet or offer food, such as whole-grain loaves of bread, Goldfish crackers or cookies sold by Pepperidge Farm.
Walsh also took the responsibility a bit further recently by joining the Business Community Champions, a newly formed committee of community leaders hoping to reduce the number of homeless people in Norwalk. The goal is to create 250 affordable housing units and 150 permanent supportive housing units for people with mental health and substance abuse issues.
Other organizations the company supports include the Christian Community Action, the Open Door Shelter in Norwalk and the Connecticut Food Bank Kids’ BackPack Program, a mission providing children with food on weekends.
“I believe all companies should have a corporate responsibility strategy,” she said.