A survey of 20,000 U.S. adults conducted by CIGNA in 2018 produced some alarming findings concerning how lonely many people feel. Nearly half (46%) of Americans indicated that they sometimes or always feel alone, and 53% say they do not have meaningful in-person social interactions on a daily basis. Perhaps most alarming is that Generation-Z was found to be the loneliest generation, indicative of social isolation problem being even more pronounced among younger people.

The Hershey Company has introduced a program aimed at helping to fight social isolation among young people. Hershey has made a commitment to help address the problem as part of its Heartwarming Project, an initiative dedicated to helping teens, parents and teachers create more inclusive communities.

As part of the Heartwarming Project, Hershey worked with partners We.org and Boys and Girls Clubs to identify teens who were already interested in or taking action on the issue to attend the company’s Makers of Good Teen Summit. The summit covers a number of strategies for reducing social isolation, including encouraging more personal interaction, writing handwritten notes of appreciation to others, and discussing the appropriate uses of social media. Hershey also has been awarding $250 grants for teens to start an advance inclusion project in their schools and communities.

“Our founder, Milton Hershey, believed that youth are the makers of the future. As a company that was built on creating connections, we believe we have a unique opportunity to help teens create a future of social inclusion," said Jeff King, Hershey’s senior director for Global Sustainability and Social Impact.