In Colorado, more than half a million people were struggling with hunger the same year ezCater opened its Denver office, according to the nonprofit Feeding America.
And while the corporate catering company’s mission might be connecting businesses with local cuisine, employees have felt compelled to do more for their community since its inception. Some employee-led initiatives have tackled food insecurity on a smaller scale, like through a “hike to end hunger” that supported a local nonprofit advocating for social, political and systemic change surrounding food insecurity.
But to enact lasting change, ezCater employees are thinking long-term.
Through ongoing partnerships with local charities, ezCater is focused on incorporating additional, persisting ways employees can give back, Devan DeLaus, a talent branding specialist said.
“For example, we can help individuals access resources to find jobs to be able to provide for themselves,” she said.
There is certainly plenty of work to be done. While the sheer numbers can seem overwhelming, DeLaus and colleague Taryn Anderson, a customer service representative, trust that every contribution counts.
“Sometimes it can feel like the work we do is just a drop in the bucket,” DeLaus said. “But that makes volunteering and helping however we can all the more important.”
Tell us a little bit about your background. What brought you to ezCater?
Devan DeLaus, Talent Branding Specialist: I wanted to work for a company where I felt I could make an impact. When I interviewed at ezCater, I knew this was a company where my opinion would be valued. The people and the culture attracted me. I’ve been able to develop my skills, take on new challenges and be more involved in work that I am passionate about.
Taryn Anderson, Customer Service Representative: My previous career was in operations and sales support. I wasn’t looking for a role in customer service but ezCater’s employee reviews caught my attention. More than anything, I wanted to have an impact and feel valued. Shortly after I started, I learned about ezCater’s community outreach program.
How does ezCater form partnerships with community groups?
Anderson: ezCater’s community outreach is centered around hunger-based initiatives including providing food, serving food and feeding those in need. When ezCater opened a Denver office in 2018, our small team began reaching out to potential charitable partners. After connecting with a few organizations, we surveyed our employees for recommendations. The recommendations doubled both our partnerships and the number of volunteer opportunities we held each month.
How do you think ezCater’s community outreach efforts will evolve?
DeLaus: ezCater community outreach efforts will continue to focus on hunger-based initiatives. We are constantly looking at new and different ways to be involved in the community, whether it’s a volunteer event, food drive or walk. This year we partnered with Hunger Free Colorado and participated in the Hike to End Hunger.
We hope that in the future, our community outreach efforts can help with root problems that cause hunger, too. For example, we can help individuals access resources to find jobs to be able to provide for themselves.
Food is a fundamental basic need.’’
In your opinion, what’s the biggest challenge in terms of helping support hunger-based initiatives?
DeLaus: Food is a fundamental basic need. Unfortunately, food insecurity is a widespread issue. Sometimes it can feel like the work we do is just a drop in the bucket because of how much still needs to be accomplished. But that makes volunteering and helping however we can all the more important.
Each organization has different needs. Some have more than enough volunteers but need funds or vice versa. By taking a step back from preconceived ideas of how you want to help and listening to what the organization itself needs, you can make the biggest impact.
What personal effect has ezCater’s community outreach had on the way you do your job?
Anderson: Running ezCater’s Denver community outreach has an effect on both my professional skills and personal values. Professionally, I’ve gained exposure within the ezCater family and have developed greater leadership skills. Personally, it has built my self-confidence, which motivates me to push myself toward new challenges. I’ve noticed I am more grateful and simply joyful to be making an impact on my community.
What social causes are important to you and how have you been able to bring them to work, if at all?
Anderson: Animal rights, food waste and health and wellness are just a couple of social causes that are important to me. We assist with organizing and distributing food donations, which directly combats food waste. We’ve had the pleasure of supporting local farms, so we see firsthand how their produce and animals are treated. Everyone we’ve worked with has a strong passion for providing nutritious food and education to address the issue of hunger.