Voices

Q+A: PepsiCo Foods North America’s Joan Cetera on Frito-Lay’s Local Community Efforts

Through Southern Dallas Thrives and Frito-Lay's collaboration with Volunteers of America, the Plano-based company continues to support causes in the Dallas region and beyond.

Frito Lay’s Joan Cetera [DI composite. Photo: Frito Lay]

Dallas Innovates Q+A (Images: Istockphoto)Joan Cetera, the VP of Communications at PepsiCo Foods North America, discusses the thought and effort that goes into Frito-Lay’s community involvement in the Dallas Region and beyond. The company recently engaged with the local efforts of Volunteers of America, a faith-based nonprofit that provides affordable housing, health care, and other services to America’s most vulnerable groups.

How does Frito-Lay identify the causes it backs?

Joan Cetera: For Frito-Lay, as for all of PepsiCo, it’s important that we give back to the communities in which we live and work. We have been in the Dallas community for more than 85 years, and we are proud of the community we call home. In 2018, we partnered with United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and The PepsiCo Foundation to launch Southern Dallas Thrives.

Southern Dallas Thrives reflects our overall PepsiCo giving through its goals of improving the quality of preschool education in Southern Dallas, providing families with nutritious meals, and preparing high school students with the career and college preparation they need to succeed.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, much of our Southern Dallas Thrives work has focused on providing financial contributions, and donating meals or product for COVID-19 relief efforts in the Southern Dallas sector and across the Dallas Region.

In addition, a key goal of Southern Dallas Thrives is to help 85 percent of South Oak Cliff High School students graduate college or be career ready through tutoring and mentoring efforts at South Oak Cliff Collegiate Academy.

How has Frito-Lay supported those initiatives?

Cetera: Since the launch of Southern Dallas Thrives, the PepsiCo Foundation has committed $3 million to increase access to quality childcare, create workforce development and training opportunities, as well as support COVID-19 relief efforts.

Since COVID-19, Frito-Lay has donated 30,000 meals to Southern Dallas families in need; 300 weekly meals to South Oak Cliff High School to help address child hunger need for students and Southern Dallas residents; and nearly $60,000 to organizations in Southern Dallas.

This year, 100 percent of South Oak Cliff High School Collegiate Academy students graduated in the first PepsiCo sponsored P-TECH class—a curriculum designed to cover careers, college, communication, leadership, active listening, time management, public speaking, resumes, and interviewing. Nearly 200 PepsiCo associates contributed more than 700 hours of mentoring and career education to provide this curriculum to approximately 300 South Oak Cliff Academy students.

Recently, Frito-Lay aided the local efforts of Volunteers of America, a faith-based nonprofit that provides affordable housing, health care, and other services to America’s most vulnerable groups, including veterans, at-risk youth, the frail elderly, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions. How was this collaboration formed?

Cetera: Through the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Southern Dallas Task Force, Frito-Lay was able to connect with Volunteers of America Texas. That connection led to a broader collaboration with Volunteers of America locations and affiliates across the country with product to help provide relief to vulnerable communities for COVID-19 relief. To date, Frito-Lay has supplied more than 500,000 bags of product to Volunteers of America locations in 12 cities across eight states.

A version of this story first appeared on the Dallas Regional Chamber site. Dallas Innovates is a collaboration of D Magazine Partners and the Dallas Regional Chamber. This Q&A is part of an ongoing series of DRC interviews with representatives from our member organizations about how they are facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Dave Moore has 30 years’ experience in writing, editing, reporting, and analysis. He’s traveled to Bosnia to observe efforts to boost the country’s post-Soviet economy, explored the causes of ho(...)

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