On Thursday, September 14, I awoke at 5:45 a.m. with a jolt. No alarm needed. Charles River Lab’s first Global Day of Service was finally here. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief. On this day, thousands of Charles River employees in nine countries and across 48 sites would be packaging 1 million meals with Rise Against Hunger and assembling 305 prosthetic hands. Never before had our company mobilized together on one day — and with such magnitude — in support of our global communities.
I glanced at the clock as my thoughts turned to our colleagues in Beijing. It was 5:45 p.m. local time, and hundreds of volunteers in China had already packaged 53,000 meals. As their day faded to night, our team in China passed the torch to our colleagues in Europe, who together were in the midst of converting 45,000 pounds of dry goods into 250,000 nutrient-rich meals.
It’s easy to get lost in the sheer volume of these numbers: 1 million meals on one day. But each of these meals has the intended purpose to reach the hands of someone in critical need of food aid. These meals provide the nutrition that children need to learn. They also provide an incentive for parents to send their kids to school. It’s through that education that we can begin to break the cycle of poverty.
We at Charles River may never get to meet the recipients of these meals, but what a privilege and responsibility for us to truly live out our company values — care, lead, own and collaborate — with such intention and in service to others.
- Care: We can be the difference — to our clients, employees and global communities — especially when we choose to see and own the problems facing our world today.
- Lead: We are the first company to package 1 million meals on one day with Rise Against Hunger, not because it’s easy (it’s not) or because we should (yes, we should), but because we are committed to supporting the health and economic development of vulnerable populations.
- Collaborate: Partnership is in our blood. It’s the cornerstone of who we are. We partner with our clients to bring life-saving drugs to market. We are proud to partner with Rise Against Hunger, which is hard at work bringing life-changing aid and economic sustainability to the chronically undernourished. Its goal is to end hunger and essentially put itself out of business.
As we reflect on the impact of these 1 million meals, we also choose to see the broader need. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, about 815 million people are undernourished globally. We know that every day, every Charles River employee makes a difference. Ending hunger by 2030 is possible through partnership. But it requires all of us — corporations, governments, NGOs and academia — to take a hard look at this pressing need and together partner for healthier lives in our communities near and far.