Without a doubt, philanthropy in the coffee industry is making a positive, lasting impact on the lives of those who grow and harvest coffee. An exciting new effort from Flavor & Fragrance Specialties will help maximize the benefit of one well-known program: Grounds for Health, an international non-profit whose mission is to partner with coffee-growing communities to reduce the unacceptably high rate of cervical cancer.
Grounds for Health is supported almost exclusively through the generosity and vision of over 200 coffee companies and individuals. It was co-founded by coffee executive Dan Cox in 1996 as a small neighbor-to-neighbor program initially providing Pap screening for the women of one Mexican community – many of them coffee farmers. For years, Grounds for Health staff, along with medical volunteers, screened women for cervical cancer in this small coffee-growing community as a way to combat a disease that is 100% preventable with early detection.
Over the past 15 years, Grounds for Health has matured into an internationally recognized force in addressing this preventable cancer-killer of women through screening, treatment, and training. Today, Grounds for Health’s Executive Director, August Burns, holds a seat on the prestigious Technical Advisory Group for Cervical Cancer Prevention at the World Health Organization (WHO). There she is able to influence global policy by sharing what has been learned through experience. The key to providing sustainable, effective and affordable cervical cancer prevention services in coffee communities is simply this: empower the community to own and lead the program. In recognition of this unique, grassroots approach, Grounds for Health was the recipient of the 2011 Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Sustainability Award.
Direct and flexible funding has made it possible for Grounds for Health to modify and perfect its program over the years, based on lessons learned on the ground as well as from the most up-to-date research available. World class research, initiated by WHO and funded by the Gates Foundation a decade ago, addressed the question: what’s the best way to bring effective, affordable cervical cancer prevention to women in low-resource countries, where more than 85% of disease occurs and lack of access to prevention makes this disease rank as their number one cancer killer? The results of that research is a protocol employed by Grounds for Health in all its programs: ‘screen and treat’ women on the same day whenever possible using the very low-tech process of visual inspection (VIA) followed by treatment of freezing pre-cancerous cells (cryotherapy) when indicated. Access to this screening, with treatment as needed, just once in her lifetime, can reduce a woman’s risk of cervical cancer by 30%. And it can be done anywhere, today, at a materials cost of just 25¢ per woman! No wonder VIA has been hailed as a “best buy” in international public health.
Grounds for Health only goes where invited, as they know that a working partnership on the ground is an essential element to success. And this success is measurable. More than 34,000 women have received screening as a direct result of Grounds for Health’s programs in Mexico, Tanzania and Nicaragua. Most significantly, however, is that over half of these women have been screened in their own community clinics by one of the 250 local doctors and nurses trained by Grounds for Health. As each trainee has the potential to see 200-300 women a year, it is estimated that 150,000 women will be screened in the next five years by these already-trained providers alone. The numbers continue to soar as more programs, trainees and sites come on line.
Results like these have prompted the loyal involvement of more than a dozen coffee companies at a very high level of financial and philosophical support. One such company, Flavor & Fragrance Specialties, Inc. (FFS) is a flavor company that services the coffee industry. The organization has supported Grounds for Health for years, but now wants to make it possible for its own customers to share in creating positive change within coffee-growing communities. FFS has developed a unique caused-based marketing campaign that will engage its own customers to support this work without charging them a premium to participate.
The campaign is simple and straightforward: when customers purchase one of three new, specially developed Grounds for Health flavorings and add the Grounds for Health logo and links to their materials, FFS will donate 15% of the total flavor revenue back to Grounds for Health. The state-of-the-art, multi-faceted communications campaign includes camera-ready signage, packaging, point of purchase materials, social media support, publicity, and advertising. All of these elements are designed to educate coffee lovers while contributing to the impact that companies such as Flavor & Fragrance Specialties – and its supply chain – can have on the lives of women in coffee-growing communities through sustainable programs like Grounds for Health.
Jane S. Dale, Development Director at Grounds for Health said, “We were absolutely blown away by the depth, creativity and commitment of the Flavor & Fragrance Specialties business-to-business program. It’s a simple and affordable way for any FFS customer to show their support for a life-changing program like Grounds for Health while gaining loyalty among their own customer base.”
Flavor & Fragrance Specialties has been a long-time supporter and fan of Grounds for Health, always making a generous annual financial contribution. “But we wanted to do more,” said Jeff Nichols, Vice-President – Coffee for FFS and the architect behind the unique marketing program. “We thought about ways to engage others by creating a turnkey, cause-based campaign that will literally help change the lives of woman coffee farmers. Our new flavors Mexican Chocolatl, Nicaraguan Rum Cake and Toasted Tanzania Cashew bring the flavors of the communities where Grounds for Health currently works to the coffee-drinking public, helping to further strengthen the link between coffee origin communities, the people who work there and the delicious coffees we enjoy every day here in the states.”
“We continue to be so appreciative for the support we receive from so many coffee-related companies,” says August Burns, who has led Grounds for Health as Executive Director since 2004. “But few have taken the initiative to develop a campaign that benefits their customer base while expanding opportunities for education and support among the coffee-drinking public. Research shows that consumers want to do business with companies who have a social conscience. Coffee, one of the best loved and most enjoyed of all beverages on the planet, is grown and harvested in some of the most remote areas of the world—places where disease prevention is rarely an option. Our donors make it possible for us to go where people live and work, with simple and affordable solutions that save lives. We are enormously grateful to Flavor & Fragrance Specialties for the commitment they have made to share this mission and really help make a difference.”
The Flavor & Fragrance Specialties program is available to any roaster or retailer that purchases flavors. To learn more about the program contact FFS at 800-998-4337. To learn more about the work of Grounds for Health, visit www.groundsforhealth.org.