May 20, 2020  

The path toward rebuilding our hard-hit Latino communities
PepsiCo associate Veronica Riojas reflects on COVID-19’s impact on communities.

Written by Veronica Riojas, VP, Category Insights & Advanced Analytics PepsiCo Walmart Team, Arkansas

While sitting down for dinner with my family last week, my 12-year-old daughter shared an interesting thought: “When I am older, I will be able to tell my children that I was a part of history because I survived the COVID-19 pandemic.” Her choice of words, “I survived,” stood out to me.

While so many of us are fortunate to thus far be survivors of this viscous virus, my wish for my daughter, and for all the youth across the country, is that they remember this time in history not as something they survived, but rather as something they conquered that resulted in a stronger, more unified nation.

As I read the headlines in the news, I continue to see COVID-19 expand its reach with economic division growing to unprecedented levels, and among those most adversely impacted are our Latino and Black populations in the U.S. As a Latino woman who grew up in the South Texas border town of McAllen, my Mexican American heritage is something I take great pride in, and it fuels my passion for giving back to my community.

This economic disparity is also the reason why these communities are seeing higher rates of COVID-19-related deaths—two times that of our White population—and the highest rates of unemployment, feels deeply personal.

These are figures that cannot and should not be ignored. Not by a member of this community, not by our friends in other communities, and not by the company we work for. If we want to conquer this coronavirus and pave the path forward, we must join forces to lift up these hard-hit populations.

While we are seeing relief efforts on the rise, a full recovery will require heroic acts from those who are most financially and morally willing and able. And I am honored and privileged to say that I work for a company that is both and is playing an integral role in recovery efforts for the Latino and Black communities.

Veronica Riojas

While we are seeing relief efforts on the rise, a full recovery will require heroic acts from those who are most financially and morally willing and able.

PepsiCo will donate a total of $7 million to support these populations to aid in their immediate and long-term needs. A donation of $1 million will go to UnidosUS, an organization that promotes civil rights, education, health, and housing for Latinos. This partnership will fund critical efforts to deliver food, government aid, education assistance, job training, and economic assistance to Latinos across six high-density metro markets where PepsiCo has worked for decades and has deep ties. These resources will be invaluable to rebuilding our communities, as they address foundational human needs required to keep families from falling below the poverty line and to lift those who are already falling below because of these dire circumstances.

In addition to the financial investment from PepsiCo, our Latino-focused Employ Resource Group (ERG), Adelante, of which I am the National Chair, is also eager to support recovery initiatives. In partnership with UnidosUS, our members will volunteer to pack food for distribution, support the development of children’s programs, and help train and mentor Latinos looking to rebuild or change their careers post COVID-19.

As I look back to the conversation with my daughter, I can now say that while we may have a long road of recovery ahead of us, the power of PepsiCo together with the power of our Latino community can propel us to conquer this virus and come out stronger and more unified.

To learn more about what PepsiCo is doing to help our consumers and communities, click here.