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How the Campbell Soup Company has impacted Camden: A Q&A with CEO Denise Morrison

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Denise Morrison, president and CEO of Campbell Soup Company.
Denise Morrison, president and CEO of Campbell Soup Company. - ()

Denise Morrison has been President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company since August 2011.

Morrison, who has a distinguished track record of building strong businesses and growing iconic brands, became CEO after more than eight years at Campbell and more than 30 years in the food business.

Morrison is a founding member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, an initiative of manufacturers and retailers to combat obesity in the marketplace, workplace, and schools.

She also serves on the board of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, where she chairs its Health and Wellness Committee.  Denise was named as a Vice Co-Chair of the Consumer Goods Forum in 2013 and serves on the organization's board.  Denise was named to President Barack Obama's Export Council in 2012.

She is regularly named among the Fortune and Forbes Most Powerful Women as well as the NJBIZ list of the most powerful people in New Jersey.

We asked her three questions about Campbell's impact in Camden, where it has been based since its founding in 1869:

Q: Why is it important for a company like Campbell's to invest in the community where it resides?

For over 145 years, we've carried the same sense of community and responsibility that has been an inherent part of who we are as an organization since the beginning. Wherever we operate, we seek to apply our capabilities and expertise as one of the world's largest food companies to increase the impact of our community involvement.

For instance, during the past year, Campbell provided more than $50 million in food donations and global giving in the communities where we operate. The Campbell Soup Foundation provided more than $1.7 million in grants to nonprofit community service organizations, with more than half dedicated to agencies serving Camden.

Beyond dollars, our employees volunteered more than 21,000 hours last year to enhance the quality of people's lives. During Campbell's annual "Make a Difference" Week, more than 3,000 employees across 16 of our U.S. locations participated in 70 projects that focused on building and sustaining healthy communities.

Q: Campbell's work with childhood obesity is a natural fit for the company and a very worthy cause. How do those efforts in turn support the brand itself?

As a food company, Campbell is uniquely positioned to help create an accessible and equitable food system in the Camden community.

In 2011, we launched our Healthy Communities program, a 10-year, $10 million effort to make a measureable difference in the lives of Camden's kids. Behind our Healthy Communities program, we are leading a citywide effort to reduce hunger and childhood obesity among Camden's 23,000 school-aged children. The initiative promotes nutrition education, physical fitness and access to healthier foods for children in Camden, a city where many families are living in poverty.

The Healthy Communities program illustrates Campbell's commitment to creating shared value in the communities where we work.

Q: Why has Campbell's decided to stay in Camden over the years as it has grown and expanded? There are obvious challenges in the area, but what are the benefits?

Campbell has called Camden home since the company was founded in 1869. It is important for us to stay true to our roots but also build for our future, and our location in New Jersey allows us to do that. In 2007, we invested $132 million to remain in Camden and have acquired several adjacent properties in efforts to revitalize the City of Camden's Gateway District, with plans to develop an office park which will help attract additional business to the city.

The infrastructure of the region provides us with a great transportation network - trains, highways and international airports are all easily accessible. The region is especially appealing because it provides access to international cities such as Washington, D.C., New York City and, just across the river, Philadelphia.

We're fortunate to have access to the region's excellent higher-ed institutions, including Rutgers University at Camden, the University of Pennsylvania, St. Joseph's University and many others. People want to live in this area because it has so much to offer, and we are able to attract well-educated, highly-skilled employees. Our campus in Camden is becoming a magnet for world-class talent, especially people drawn to a dynamic corporate culture and the quality of life the greater Philadelphia region provides.

We intend to be here for the long term and we're committed to helping revitalize Camden.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com.

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