Kraft CEO helps out at food pantry

October 3, 2011 4:38:41 PM PDT
Irene Rosenfeld is the CEO of Kraft. She was recently named the most powerful woman in American business by Fortune magazine.

On Monday, she was in Chicago to lend a hand in the fight against hunger.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository got a boost. Dozens of volunteers followed the lead of their boss, Rosenfeld.

"Especially today in these economic times, the need is even greater than ever, so we're really proud and pleased to be helpful," she said.

The Kraft team is packing food that will be taken home by Chicago students who may not have enough to eat over the weekend. Kraft employees are working on projects all week worldwide. At the Greater Chicago Food Depository, they not only brought their willingness to work, but they brought the snacks.

"When leaders stand up and say, 'Hey, it's really important to be part of the response to hunger,' it's really important that we have to take care of everyone in our community that has a big impact," said Kate Maehr, Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Rosenfeld continued her day of volunteerism by visiting Namaste Charter School, which benefitted from a new playground with the help of Kraft volunteers last year. While she has been with Kraft, based in suburban Northfield, most of her professional life, Rosenfeld has been traveling a tremendous amount, making big moves with the world's second-largest food company.

"The key is to have the strategy and stay focused on the strategy," she said.

The acquisition of Cadbury was met with some criticism, and she's in the process of splitting Kraft into a global snack company and a company to focus on grocery foods in North America.

"The rate of growth of many of the food categories in general and our categories in particular, and it's one of the reasons that we decided to split the company," Rosenfeld said.

Rosenfeld is in an elite group -- only 3 percent of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs. As a CEO and a mother, she said she hopes to have more company.

"When I talk about the glass ceiling they say, 'Mom, what are you talking about?' But I think the numbers suggest that we're not yet where we need to be," Rosenfeld said. "But we certainly have made progress."

Rosenfeld says the split will be complete by the end of 2012. She won't say which company she will be following, but she doesn't have any plans to retire.

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