LINK AND READ THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN PEACE CORPS AND KRAFT FOODS

This MOU represents a collaborative relationship between Kraft Foods and the Peace Corps.

In the  section, III Mission, the MOU states “The purpose of Kraft Foods is to be a global snacks powerhouse with an unrivalled portfolio of brands people love.

In the same section, the MOU states “The purpose of the Peace Corps is to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women; to help promote a a better understanding of  Americans on the part of the peoples served; and to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.”

Here is the link:                                 mou_peace_corps_mondelez

Read and comment.

23 Comments

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  • Leo,

    Then should we just shower the developing world with chiclets and oreos?

    Much easier than “Go anywhere, bear any burden…” or “help the people of interested countries meet their need for trained men and women….”

  • The issue really isn’t chiclets or oreos or even the Hersey bars that GIs gave to kids in postwar Europe. The issue isn’t about the value of candy and snacks or even about the social and economic value of for- profit multinationals.

    This is the issue, for me: Is collaborating with a corporation whose mission statement is to be a “global snacks powerhouse” the very best use of Peace Corps’s limited resources?

  • A partnership with corporations has nothing to do with the three PC goals. It undermines PC integrity by implying that this government program is really an extension of the Department of Commerce. While many sources mention and explore a long history of accusations that the PC was an arm of the intelligence community (unfounded), few mention another sort of criticism- that the PC participated in burdening developing nations with greater debt via suggestions and even facilitating large loans through the World Bank and U.S.A.I.D.. Most of these developing nations have a historic trade imbalance, exporting raw materials at a low cost and importing processed goods at a high cost. A partnership with large corporations will accentuate this debate. It is especially galling that the processed food industry is touted given that recent studies indicate a strong correlation between processed foods and obesity (resulting in an increase of the number of heart attacks and diabetes victims). So aside from guiding neighbors towards serfdom to the World Bank, now we also will attempt to sell their children food stuffs knowing that it will shorten their lives.

  • Thank you, Lorenzo, for focusing the discussion where it belongs.
    That is on people in the developing world and their use of limited resources; not the Peace Corps use of its resources. I can’t argue macroeconomics, but we can look at all the efforts that Peace Corps Health Volunteers, in collaboration, with NGOs, and HCN organizations have made to increase the nutritional value of diets among people who are poor. The Mondelez model is not consistent with that, in my opinion.

    I don’t know if PCVs will be distributing “snack foods” as samples.
    But certainly Mondelez wants to use the Peace Corps reputation to promote its company.

    I am haunted, still, by so many aspects of my Peace Corps service and what I observed. The population I worked with was basically subsistence. Often, there wasn’t enough food for the families. Canela was a block of cane sugar that was very cheap, and while it had little nutritional value, it would help starve off hunger pangs. I
    remember so many children would suck on a piece of canela and as a result, their front teeth would decay in a circle where the canela had been.

    Instead of promoting “Service” as a goal, I think the motto that should hang in the Peace Corps HDQs should be:
    “First, do no harm.”

  • As a fellow who spent two years at PC/W I have my own memories of aspects of the headquarter’s ‘modus operandi’ that worried me. However, unless things have changed enormously, I think that the PC/W folks (most of whom are former PCVs) need to begiven a bit more respect. Remember, the field could not exist without them.

  • David,

    I don’t understand your remark. The acting Director is an RPCV.
    Most of the people in decision-making positions are not. What remark did not strike you as properly “respectful?”

    This is an extremely critical development in the “major reorganization” at Peace Corps. It demands the honest comments for everyone who served.

  • David- I have no idea what PC/W even means! Hopefully, you’ll explain it. My remarks carry no personal baggage since bad ideas are usually born orphans. This is one really bad idea.

    According to the statistics a few years ago, more than half of all volunteers worldwide spent two years handing out rubbers which is called HIV/AIDS education. Another famous critique of the Peace Corps is that volunteers try to sterilize Third World mothers. Why do this?

    Over the last half century, the Peace Corps has been involved in a series of great programs including fisheries, improvement to farming methods (much like we did in our own country during the FDR administration), nutrition, vacination campaigns, anti-malaria campaigns, providing safe drinking water, helping to build roads, school, etc. These strange detours taken during the last 15 years might have something to do with the partnership between the State Department and U.S.A.I.D. – isolating what is perceived to be a band of amateur trouble makers. Phoey! The Peace Corps should be truly independent again.

  • Oh, David. You have it backwards- The Washington suits only exist to support volunteers. No volunteers, no suits. They tended to forget that even when I was a volunteer, so many moons ago.

  • As I see it PC/W (that was the shorthand we used to use to indicate the Wahington headquarters of the Peace Corps; maybe it’s out of fashion these days) has three main functions: (1) obtain congressional support and an operating budget; (2) recruit new volunteers from a cross-section of Americans; and, (3) make major policy decisions as warranted and desireable.

    Without successfully carrying out the first two there would be no volunteers in the field and no Peace Corps. The third one has been the source of important progress (and some genuine diasagreement). The following policy decisions made by PC/W come to mind: (1) Shriver’s initial decisions about the agency; (2) a decided shift to the importance of jobs; (3) deciding to leave a number of countries where economic progress was substantial, e.g., the Asian Tigers; (4) the entry into former soviet-bloc countries; etc.

  • I ran out of space! I would add today’s emphasis on Volunteer safety as another major decision, as well as the move towards short term assignments, and the renewed importance of Goal Three.

    I have no idea what the tie-in with Kraft Foods involves but I’m willing to give the Agency the benefit of the doubt until I learn more rather than come in with my hammer swinging.

  • David,
    Your following statement is of concern to me:

    “I have no idea what the tie-in with Kraft Foods involves..”

    The Memorandum of Understanding between the Peace Corps and Kraft Food was secured via a FOIA.
    The link to that MOU was posted here, because the document itself is nine pages with an additional appendix, single spaced. I urge you to read the MOU before commenting.

    This is a very serious discussion and it is not about Washington vs. the Field; nor is it about Staff vs RPCVs. It is about the mission of the Peace Corps.

  • OK, I have read the agreement. It is apparent that the lawyers for both sides were heavily involed, but I think ther main ideas come through. Both sides are free to accept or reject the other side’s ideas, so neither can be forced to do what it doesn’t want to. On the other hand a major and successful US multi-national is offering training, money, administrative skills to PCVs working in geographic and/or developmental activities of interest to both sides and the host country (which is expected to play a key role in all of this). The post PCV service employment opportunity seems especially valuable these days.

    I gather that the main objection is that Kraft is a profit making endeavor, and therefore not to be trusted. If the MOU was with an NGO would there be the same objections?

  • Thank you for reading the MOU, David. These are my objections.

    1) It is not specified, but my presumption and I think yours, is that the training model is developed by Mondelez. That means that the materials, the values, the approach will be that of Mondelez. I presume that the materials will have the Modelez name and logos.
    (Although, I hope that John Coyne will ask Carrie Hessler-Rodelet, to describe in detail this training module to clarify that specific point.)

    This means that the participation of Peace Corps Volunteers and the so-called Peace Corps “Brand” will be used to enhance the “Brand”
    of Mondelez. I do not think the work of US citizens who volunteer to serve their country should be used to market a snack product.

    2) ” Both sides are free to accept or reject the other side’s ideas, so neither can be forced to do what it doesn’t want to.” Peace Corps
    Washington may be free to accept or reject the Kraft ideas; but, I don’t think that the individual serving Volunteer has any such option.
    That could compromise the integrity of a serving Volunteer, who may encounter problems in the course of the training model activities with which he or she is not in agreement.

    Plus, I do not think that enhancing the marketing of sugar snack products, however that may be done, is compatible with the work of other PCVs who are teaching nutrition and how to have a healthy diet for people with very limited resources.

    3) I think that the possibility of future employment with Mondelez is an incentive that is destructive to the idea of Peace Corps service in three ways. First of all, it makes it more difficult for a Volunteer to be independent because such honesty might risk the chance of future employment. Secondly, it is an opportunity that will not be offered to all Volunteers, but rather to the select few who are working with Mondelez. This compromises the sense of equal opportunity bases on merit for future employment for all who serve, not just a favored few. Third, the taxpayers, in effect, will be training future employees of Mendelez.

    This statement of yours does not state my position accurately.
    “I gather that the main objection is that Kraft is a profit making endeavor, and therefore not to be trusted.” That is known as a straw man argument. I have never said that for-profit corporations are not to be trusted. My concern has always been with the mission of the Peace Corps and the fact that Volunteers serve their country, not a corporation.

    I have read your book. I know that your primary employment for many years was with a large for-profit company selling soap; and, that you then left the very profitable company to become a teacher. I found it hard to believe that that decision was based solely on seeing the movie “To Sir With Love.” It may well be that your personal experience might support my arguments, after all.

  • For those who do not agree with the Kraft Food/Peace Corps M.O.U., the best way to voice displeasure is to organize a worldwide boycott. While this company’s logo could easily be, “And let them eat cake!” we should respond, “And may greed choke you!”

  • Lorenzo, NO. I absolutely disagree with you. The problem is not with Kraft Foods. They are acting responsibly in terms of their Mission statement and their responsibility to their stockholders.
    It is Peace Corps that I believe is the problem. The Peace Corps accepted or perhaps even initiated this collaboration. It is Peace Corps, that I believe, is not acting in accord with its legislative
    mandate. And, as we all have learned, as RPCVs we have no say in what the agency does.

  • Why not withhold our condemnation until we actually see a program in the field. The MOU requires Peace Corps on site to work with Kraft folks in the same geographic area to develop a joint program which meets both sides objectives. There is plenty of time to back out if either side is uneasy on any account. Once a proposal is developed locally it must be approved by each chain of command. Again, plenty of time to back out if warranted. As they say, “Lets not let the perfect get in the way of the good.”

    PS to Joanne: Pretty sneaky using my own words to confirm that I, too, have had the occasional difficulty with corporate values!

  • David,
    The MOU was signed last September. There is a program ready to start in the Dominican Republic. I believe that John Coyne will be posting that program description. Most importantly, Acting Director Carrie Hessler has agreed to be interviewed by John about this program. I think it imperative that the Peace Corps community be as knowledgeable as possible about this “major reorganization,”

    I don’t see where “either side can back out.” Again, PC/W dictates and serving Volunteers are deployed. There is nothing to suggest that a Volunteer can “back out.”

    I bought your book, David. I read your book. I refer to your book, frequently. I remember what you wrote. That is not “sneaky,” that is my responsibility as a RPCV blogger. Consider yourself warned!

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