Located on the west coast of Africa in Ghana, Agicare, a maize processing company, dreams of becoming the preferred manufacturer and distributor of livestock and poultry feed in West Africa. Since 1968, Agricare has been producing feed using locally grown maize from hundreds of farmers to supply the local poultry and livestock industry. But, in order to grow their business and sell their products throughout the West African market, Agricare needed to improve its quality management systems and gain an advanced food safety certification.
“Obtaining a HACCP Certification is an important step in growing our business,” said Alice Tuvor, quality assurance manager at Agricare. “It will ensure our customers that our products are safe and high-quality for both domestic consumption and export and will help us create more jobs and provide more market space for local corn farmers.” Supporting Agricare in this endeavor was Ardent Mills Technical Service Manager Stephanie McIlwain. Stephanie has worked at Ardent Mills for ten years in various quality and operations roles and has had the pleasure of working at seven different mills. She currently works with Ardent Mills customers on the technical solutions team. “I really wanted to use my skills to benefit food companies with limited access to resources, and be a part of improving the quality and safety of the global food supply,” said Stephanie. “I was glad I could be a part of Agricare’s journey.”
Guided by Stephanie’s support, Agricare has reviewed implementation methods for critical control point monitoring, identified hazards from a risk assessment, conducted a standard operations procedures review, and added an implementation process. “It’s important for us to partner with Partners in Food Solutions because of the access to additional professional experience and expertise,” said Alice. “My favorite part of the project was simply learning from the volunteer team.”
In addition to serving others and improving the safety and quality of the global food system, Stephanie said she also learned something new. “Working with a diverse group of people and learning about Agricare’s operations was my favorite part of the experience,” said Stephanie. “I enjoyed getting to meet new people from other companies, and hearing other people’s ideas and perspectives is always interesting.”
Since the project ended in April, Agricare is now preparing for its HACCP audit which will take place this summer. With a better understanding of their controls and monitoring system, and all SOPs documented, Agricare feels confident that they will pass their upcoming HACCP audit.
Please share a little about yourself and your role at Ardent Mills.My name is Kent Juliot and I have had the privilege of serving
Ardent Mills as Vice President of Research, Quality, and Tech
Services. I have 37 years of experience in the food industry within
quality, food safety, food production, and research on everything
from soup to nuts.
How does volunteering with Partners in Food Solutions help
Ardent Mills employees live out their purpose?
Ardent Mills’ four core values are trust, serving, simplicity, and
safety. While PFS helps us accomplish all of these, ‘serving’ stands
out and our teammates have embraced volunteering for PFS
projects as one of the key ways of living out our value of service.
How can volunteering with Partners in Food Solutions help
Ardent Mills employees develop new skills and/or grow as a
Our volunteers have so many stories of how they grew through
their PFS experience. It is always fun to hear from other team
members about what they’ve learned from other volunteers at
other companies that would not be possible without being part of
PFS. Others tell stories of gaining self-confidence, helping others in
Africa, and gaining new skills that they contribute to their day-to-day
job. Growth in technical and/or people skills is almost guaranteed
when signing up as a PFS volunteer.
If someone is interested in volunteering but may be hesitant to
start, what would you say to them?
If you are right out of school or have decades of experience, your
knowledge can help someone in Africa. If you are willing, there is a
spot for you at PFS. Even if you may not be an “expert”, someone
else on the project team may know or someone in your network
may be able to help. Just jump in!
What is the most important thing about Partners in Food
PFS is a practical way to share knowledge that serves others. With
PFS, you get to share your skills and see exactly what the impact is.
It is so much more rewarding to see for yourself that you have made
a direct impact in people’s lives that need help.
“I’m incredibly grateful to be part of an organization that strongly promotes volunteer work,” said Susana Godoy Bailey, administrative manager at Ardent Mills. Originally from Venezuela, Susana has been with the company for eight years and most recently moved to Canada to serve in her current role at the Streetsville, Ontario flour mill. “I was very excited to have the chance to contribute in any possible way to making a positive impact in someone’s life,” said Susana. “Also, the chance to learn from other cultures was a huge motivation for me to volunteer with PFS.”
Susana started volunteering with Partners in Food Solutions in March 2021 and a few weeks later was matched with client Reel Fruit in Nigeria as their Client Lead. Client Leads work with one client at a time, serving as their project manager to ensure project teams are supported and projects get completed in a timely manner. “My favorite part about being a Client Lead is definitely witnessing the incredible teamwork dynamic between the customer, volunteers, and PFS,” she said. “This experience is such a lesson in life and to witness the progress of the project from the beginning to its completion is an incredibly rewarding experience.”
Earlier this year, Susana took on her second Client Lead role with PFS client Zatwa in Côte d’Ivoire. “Susana has been so proactive in understanding Zatwa’s two projects and ask-an-expert,” said Bernadette Arthur, PFS program associate in Ghana. “Susana wields great emotional intelligence, a clear sense of direction, and an eye for detail and administrative tasks. On one project call for Zatwa, she helped the project team set S.M.A.R.T. goals to reach the project deliverables, which increased the productivity of the project team. I was very impressed with her ability to make the team feel comfortable and share concerns and questions.” As a program associate, Bernadette is responsible for supporting the West Africa portfolio which includes Ghana, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire. Bernadette’s portfolio alone includes 40+ clients and 85+ different services. “Client leads like Susana are vital to helping break down a project into more manageable pieces. My relationship with client leads is a partnership. They help us deliver the best services to our clients and ensure our volunteer teams are having a meaningful experience working on the project.”
Now that she has overseen several projects, Susana said, “Volunteering can be done if you have the time and the passion to do it. Having all the expertise isn’t needed because there is a team of PFS staff, volunteers, and the client all working together to make sure everyone feels supported and is successful in their role. Volunteering with PFS is truly an incredible experience and by serving together we can make incredible things happen.”
At PFS, partnership is a foundational component of who we are and what makes us sucessful. Every year, we honor several individuals who embody the qualities of our founders, John Mendesh and Peter Erickson. These awards go to people who most demonstrate enthusiasm, drive for results, employ creative problem solving, and show tenacity, grit, wisdom, and humility. Please join us in celebrating our fourth annual PFS Service Award winners…
John Mendesh Award
Gloria Otto, Partners in Food Solutions Program Associate – Ghana
"Gloria is never not smiling, even when the work can be stressful or unpredictable. She oversees a difficult portfolio, but she never shows frustration. Instead, she is focused on how to solve the problem in a way that is achievable and supported by the most people. She does not give up and always has a warm attitude through it all." - PFS Staff Member
Niels Van Mossevelde, DSM Associate Scientist II – Netherlands
"Niels has been an active Client Lead for a while now. He has supported the client with very minimal staffing resources and has been very patient with the client even at their busiest times. He has always joined the project calls with a smile on his face and helped provide solutions to the client apart from leading calls.” - PFS Staff Member
Peter Erickson Award
Eleanor McSweeney, Bühler Business Development Manager – Switzerland
"Eleanor served as a Client Lead for our client in Côte d’Ivoire. She served as a formidable translator, project manager, and always reverted to the team with ideas to overcome project challenges. She worked extremely hard and developed an excellent rapport with the project team to ensure that the client completed their HACCP and Yield Increase Project. She was also prompt with communication and would close projects immensely well. - PFS Staff Member
Dan Dietz, Smucker Director of Engineering & Technical Services – USA
“Dan has been one of the most active Smucker volunteers since they joined PFS. He has already volunteered on three different services and shown so much commitment to the work. He has been patient and understanding and willing to stay on and support a client even while there was political unrest in Ethiopia causing major delays with his client. He offers so much expertise and guidance in the areas of process optimization and product formulation and he does it with grace and humility." - PFS Staff Member