Advancing Food Banks

How Employee Engagement Programs Help Alleviate Hunger: Q&A with Qiana Williams

Employee engagement programs make a meaningful impact and are a win-win all around—for staff members, the companies they

 work for, and the community organizations that benefit. We sat down with Qiana M. Williams, GFN’s associate director of employee engagement, to learn why giving back is important and how companies can engage their employees to partner with GFN member food banks around the world.

The Global FoodBanking Network: You’ve spent most of your career developing employee engagement and volunteer programs. How did you get into this work?

Qiana Williams: Volunteering and giving back to my community has always been a part of my life—from volunteering as a Girl Scout and serving as my city’s youth mayor to advocating for my university’s center for community service. My entire professional career has been devoted to developing volunteer and employee engagement programs, fundraising, and working with corporate partners. Ive worked for organizations like Georgia Public Broadcasting, the United Way, and the Boys & Girls Club of America. I love creating ways for people to make an impact in their community.

What are the benefits of employee engagement programs and what types of programs does GFN offer?

We know employees find it important to work for a company that cares about social issues and giving back. Employee engagement programs allow companies to create opportunities for employees to invest their time, talent, and finances in issues that matter most to them, like alleviating hunger. These programs not only enhance employees’ cultural and global competency and professional development outside their job but also can help improve productivity and employee retention.

More specifically, employee engagement programs include employee giving campaigns, in-person and skills-based volunteering opportunities, and employee advocacy. For example, a company can organize a produce-sorting activity at a GFN member food bank’s warehouse, create a holiday giving campaign and match employee contributions dollar for dollar, or support food banks by offering technical skills in areas like accounting or business operations.

The workforce has become more globalized, and many people are working remotely. What’s unique about GFN’s employee engagement programs?

GFN partners with food banks in nearly 50 countries and so companies that partner with us can make an impact worldwide. For companies with a global workforce, this means that employees can support local hunger alleviation efforts where they live and work. And it’s meaningful for diaspora communities to be able to support food banks in their home countries or countries of origin.

You underline the importance of volunteer appreciation—what are some employee engagement campaigns that you’d like to shout out?

It’s essential to recognize that whenever volunteers are giving of their time, skills, or finances, they’re helping to take some of the burden off food banks and help move the needle toward Zero Hunger. We’re thankful for the many partners who have supported member food banks around the world:

  • Volunteers from corporate partner PIMCO developed a series of toolkits to support food banks in their social media efforts. The toolkits were specifically tailored for food banks in Asia Pacific and created by volunteers living in those regions who partnered with local food banks to understand their needs. The toolkits include best practices on social media strategy, analytics, and performance measurement.
  • Mondelez employees from 21 countries in the Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East worked with member food banks to provide recommendations on global supplier relationships and product sourcing best practices. The teams analyzed Mondelez’s regional manufacturing footprints to identify opportunities for GFN member food banks to procure additional food and resources from the company, feed more people, and reduce food loss and waste.
  • DLA Piper has partnered with GFN for several employee-giving campaigns. Last year, these campaigns engaged nearly 1,000 employees working across the world who invested $40,000 in member food banks.

These are just a few stories of the impact of our employee engagement programs, and we’re just getting started. I’m excited to drive this work forward and create more opportunities for employees to partner with member food banks—from Thailand and Nigeria to Honduras and Turkey and beyond.

To explore opportunities for your company to support food banks worldwide and help alleviate food insecurity, contact Qiana M. Williams at

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