Editor's note:A Spanish-language version of this story is also available.
The Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank campaign finished strong, collecting 251,095 pounds of nonperishable food in just over a month for 363 food banks. Combined with monetary donations, that’s enough to serve 433,814 meals.
Wells Fargo officially kicked off the effort on #GivingTuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, with a $5 million grant to United Way. Through Dec. 30, 2017, the company placed specially marked collection bins in each of its approximately 5,900 bank branches and 44 other locations, and hosted a mobile pop-up food bank tour that visited 17 cities between New York and California.
Mary Mack, head of Wells Fargo Community Banking and Consumer Lending, joined other company leaders in stopping by pop-up food banks to make donations and volunteering at food-related nonprofits.
“Each and every day our team members help customers improve their financial future so they can have a better life for themselves and their families,” Mack said. “Our Holiday Food Bank extended that type of support and compassion to the entire community at a time when the need for food is great.”
Team members join forces to fight hunger
In all, nearly 1,900 team members volunteered more than 7,340 hours over the holidays to support food banks and other food-related nonprofits — delivering meals, sorting food, and helping fight hunger in 36 states, the District of Columbia, and countries outside the U.S.
And they didn’t let bad weather slow their progress. As a massive snowstorm hit the Northeast, volunteers continued to shuttle back and forth between Wells Fargo bank branches and other locations to collect nonperishable food for the New York Common Pantry.
“Employees at 23 locations across New York City generously donated more than 30 large boxes of food to us,” said Stephen Grimaldi, executive director of New York Common Pantry, a food pantry dedicated to reducing hunger throughout New York City.
Two apartment buildings and 11 grocery stores in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood joined the effort so their tenants and customers could contribute to the Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank effort, too.
“Wells Fargo is a valued ally of ours all year long,” Grimaldi said, “and the additional holiday support means that fewer New Yorkers and their families will be hungry this winter.”
In San Antonio, the local Wells Fargo team partnered with the San Antonio Food Bank and FOX-TV to present the 5th annual “Holiday Box with FOX” food drive. In December, the team collected more than 14,500 pounds of food at 50 bank branches, the company’s Wiseman Campus, and other offices. Both community and team member giving contributed to the overall campaign results, which provided more than 2.1 million meals for Southwest Texas.
Alicia Mesecher, a Wells Fargo branch service manager in San Antonio, said her location contributed 15 boxes of food — drawing praise from customers and team members alike.
“Our customers appreciated the convenience of dropping off their food at the branch,” she said. “One said she knew she wanted to do something to help for the holidays, but wasn’t sure how, and our effort made the experience super stress-free and convenient.
“I enjoy that I have a career with a company that supports community involvement year-round,” Mesecher added. “It’s easy to be self-focused during the holidays, but the bins in our branch reminded us and our customers that there’s a bigger picture: Give back when you can, and your heart will thank you for it.”
‘We were able to have a truly blessed holiday’
One in eight Americans relies on food banks and pantries for meals, according to Feeding America’s most recent report (PDF). An online survey Wells Fargo commissioned for the Holiday Food Bank campaign found that 83 percent of the 1,000 surveyed would be more likely to donate food if they had a convenient location (and 33 percent said they lacked such a place).
Jon Campbell, head of Corporate Responsibility and Community Relations for Wells Fargo, said Wells Fargo and United Way launched the Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank to make it easier for people to donate food, money, and time in support of the 41.2 million Americans the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates are food insecure and can’t always obtain adequate nutrition.
“Wells Fargo was in a unique position to make a difference tackling the issue of hunger in America this holiday season by leveraging our size — our physical locations and team member population — to benefit our local communities in a meaningful way,” Campbell said.
“We could not have achieved these results without the commitment and passion of our engaged team members, and I would like to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who collected food, donated money, and volunteered time this holiday season,” he said. “Thanks also to United Way, who shares our commitment to ensure every person in every community has the opportunity to succeed.”
One of the Holiday Food Bank beneficiaries was Amy Millar, a mother of three in Pennsylvania who unexpectedly found herself a single parent earlier this year. Food donated to the Seeds of Hope food pantry in Dresher, Pennsylvania, during the campaign helped Millar serve her family a holiday dinner of baked ziti and ham, and a Christmas Day breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon.
“The holidays went well. Utilizing the pantry helped relieve the stress of making ends meet at the holidays as a single parent,” Millar said. “A family from Chelten, the church that runs Seeds of Hope, even adopted my children this year for gifts so we were able to have a truly blessed holiday.”