Through my internship and schoolwork, I’ve learned more about several companies who have taken innovative approaches to solving problems in their communities. I’d like to highlight a few of them here.
O-Town Kitchen is a benefit corporation located in Ogden, Utah. On the surface, the company seems pretty basic- they make jam. However, they make jam in a way that helps alleviate a few problems that the community faces. First, they use as much surplus fruit as they can. Food waste is a huge problem in America, and by using fruit that is at risk of being wasted, O-Town helps solve this problem. Second, they serve populations who are at risk of homelessness by hiring single mothers who are having a hard time finding jobs. Through this practice, O-Town helps families achieve stability they may not otherwise have.
Even Stevens is sandwich shop (well actually, several sandwich shops) and they know how to make an amazing sandwich. But that’s not all they know how to do well. Even Stevens uses a buy one, give one model. For every sandwich they sell, they give a sandwich to a local non-profit that focuses on feeding people. They don’t just show up on the doorstep of the non-profit with a bunch of sandwiches, however. Instead, they allocate the price of the sandwiches to non-profits based on their needs, and those non-profits can order what they need, when they need it. If a non-profit already has a great deal with a bread supplier, they can simply get sandwich fixings rather than ordering whole sandwiches. It’s an incredibly creative way to help feed our community.
Tom’s of Maine
Tom’s of Maine is the only company I’ve listed that isn’t located in Utah. The best thing about Tom’s of Maine is how they treat their employees and the community they are located in. Employees are allowed and encouraged to spend five percent of their paid working time volunteering in their community. Parents can have the time to help in their children’s classrooms. Nursing homes can get volunteers to come visit with the elderly who may not otherwise have much social interaction. There are so many benefits that come from this program alone. It is truly a great way for a company to help make a community stronger.
These are just a few examples of some of the creative solutions businesses have found to help solve problems in their communities. Keep these ideas in mind throughout your own career, and take time to come up with some innovation of your own.