Why GFN is the Right Partner for John Deere: Q&A with CSR Lead Laura Eberlin
August 17, 2022
For over 180 years, John Deere has developed technologies that farmers and ranchers around the world have used to produce food for a growing world population. But John Deere is also committed to supporting nonprofit organizations that help ensure everyone has access to the food that farmers and ranchers produce.
To that end, John Deere partnered with The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) to improve food access. The company is also directly supporting GFN member food banks in Argentina and Mexico that are located near John Deere’s operations in those countries.
Laura Eberlin is John Deere’s global social responsibility lead, focusing on community engagement and enrichment. As a second-generation John Deere employee with nearly 22 years of experience at the company, Eberlin knows the power of meaningful corporate social responsibility. Eberlin recently shared why John Deere decided to partner with GFN and what that relationship means for the company.
GFN: What does “corporate social responsibility” mean to John Deere?
Laura Eberlin: Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, has been an integral part of John Deere from our very beginning, back to John Deere himself. We’ve always known the importance of partnering with nonprofit organizations to create strategies and programs that enable the people we serve to unlock economic, social, and environmental value in sustainable ways.
What is the goal of the collaboration between John Deere and The Global FoodBanking Network?
The Global FoodBanking Network represents the most geographically diverse network of food banks in the world. We rely on our partnership with GFN to help support the communities where we work outside of the United States—and we see our relationship growing. Our goal is shared: We want to recover safe, nutritious food, so it’s not lost or wasted, and distribute that food to as many youth and families as we can. GFN is present in eight of our home communities in Mexico and Argentina, and because of the enormous impact they have made, we have plans in place to support this work in more home communities as well.
Why did John Deere want to partner with The Global FoodBanking Network?
For nearly two centuries, John Deere has developed equipment and technologies to help our farmers produce food to feed our growing world. Yet upward of 828 million people in the world are going hungry. As our corporate social responsibility journey progressed over the years, so did our realization that we can and must do more to support those facing hunger. But we could not do this alone. We needed partners with ingenuity, persistence, and sophistication to help us alleviate hunger by recovering the food that our farmers produce and distributing it to people in vulnerable situations.
The Global FoodBanking Network is that partner to us—one that is creating long-term economic, social, and environmental impacts. It was really a perfect partnership. We were looking at how we could expand our CSR in Mexico and Argentina, first and foremost looking at food access. And that’s where GFN emerged at the top of our partners. It is a dream of ours that, in each and every home community of ours, we support a food bank.
Representatives from John Deere sort produce at Red Argentina de Bancos de Alimentos’s warehouse. (Photo: John Deere)
How does this partnership further the organization’s business goals?
The John Deere Foundation and GFN have a shared commitment to supporting the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. John Deere is committed to our farmers throughout the world to bolster their capacity to make a living, feed a growing global population, reduce inequality, and protect the world around us. One of the ways we can honor our growers and ranchers is to make sure everything they grow is put to use.GFN helps us move toward those social, economic, and environmental impact goals. About 14 percent of the world’s food is lost between harvest and retail sale—GFN and member food banks help recover that food and get it to people who need it in more than 40 countries. And that work also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent water waste.
What would you tell other companies about partnering with GFN?GFN is a powerhouse for positive global change. There is an urgency in the ongoing challenges food banks face with commodity shortages due to manmade and natural disasters, global economic volatility, and supply chain issues. People are struggling. We all can make an impact by partnering with GFN to invest in humanity, address climate change, and help make this a more socially just world through equitable food distribution.