Nota del editor: También está disponible una versión en español de esta historia.
Wells Fargo is doubling as a food bank this holiday season in a joint effort with Feeding America to fight hunger.
The Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank program, now in its second year, allows people to donate both food and money to local food banks nationwide through Wells Fargo.
From Nov. 13 to Dec. 31, Wells Fargo’s 5,700 bank branches will collect nonperishable foods in specially marked bins and deliver them to Feeding America’s member banks. Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization and provides more than 4 billion meals to people facing hunger each year.
The holiday food bank program is also branching out beyond the bank branches. A pop-up food bank tour will debut on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Nov. 14, and make stops throughout the U.S. as part of the effort. Participants can also donate money to Feeding America through Wells Fargo ATMs or online at wellsfargo.com/foodbank.
Food is very expensive nowadays, and I don’t make enough money to buy what I need to buy.
Starting with canned meals today?
Retirement check that I get, which is not too much compared to today’s standards.
Edwina Salazar, Executive Director, OUR Center:
We’re 40 percent over last year. People are in greater need of food.
OUR Center is very important in my life because of the nutritional importance.
Oh my goodness, got organic carrots? This the first time. I can’t believe this.
I know, isn’t that nice?
That’s where they can stretch their dollars, where they can put their money towards their rent or utilities.
I depend on going once a week and maybe getting ten pounds of organic apples, maybe some almond milk.
And at my age, I have to be very careful that I put the right things in my body.
We serve 1,500 households per month.
To be able to walk around at 68 years old is a blessing.
Great soup today.
The combination of buying food and going to the pantry at OUR Center has been a plus for me. It’s been a life-giving factor, because without it, it would be very hard for me to make it nowadays with the cost of food and the cost of living.
My grandmother taught me how to eat to live. That helps my music, that fuels my music, that fuels me. I mean, I give thanks each and every millisecond that I’m alive on this planet.
The kalimba, it’s been a gift in my life, it’s kept me grounded.
Wells Fargo’s focus now is providing food for communities in need, and that’s really key in our program, especially coming up on the winter months where we don’t have fresh food and vegetables coming from farms and grocery stores and our large community food bank.
As long as I have my shelter, I don’t care if they turn anything off, as long as I pay my rent.
And OUR Center has made it so I don’t have that type of pressure on me.
I can do a show and feel comfortable. It’s a good feeling.
Wells Fargo’s ties with Feeding America include local donations to 126 Feeding America member food banks, and 26 current or former Wells Fargo team members serving on food bank boards. More than 6,700 team members volunteered 31,554 hours for 128 Feeding America member food banks in 2017.
The hope for the program, Wells Fargo and Feeding America leaders say, is to have a nationwide impact on a pervasive problem. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that one in eight Americans are food insecure — meaning they don’t know where their next meal will come from.
“The problem of hunger is everywhere, and close to home. Hunger could affect one of your child’s classmates, the person driving next to you in your morning commute, or a neighbor down the street who lost their job,” said Mary Mack, head of Wells Fargo Consumer Banking. “By bringing together our customers, team members, nonprofits, and others again through the Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank, we’ll help people through difficult times and make it easier for everyone to enjoy holiday meals together.”
About 40 million people are believed to be food insecure, according to the USDA, including more than 12 million children.
“It’s important for everyone to join the fight to end hunger,” said Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot. “We must work together to end hunger — no one can do it alone. Businesses as well individuals, charities, and local, state, and national governments all have a role to play in getting more food to more people.”
So you guys can help us serve lunch today?
Edwina Salazar, executive director, OUR Center:
We operate seven days a week with our hot meal program. We serve up to 400 people a day at the café — breakfast and lunch.
There’s some over here, and then there’s some more in here around this corner.
We could not do it without volunteers.
Would you like any lettuce and tomatoes?
Tracy Powell, Wells Fargo Consumer Banking:
It’s people from all walks of life, you can tell they’re really appreciative and grateful for OUR Center and what they provide to them day in and day out.
Donna Hurst, Wells Fargo Consumer Banking:
These are plums. Yes. Would you like some?
My experience at the OUR Center actually started about two and a half years ago.
I love to see, you know, on days like today essentially, where it is snowing and it’s cold out there, knowing that they can come in and they can actually get two good, solid meals is really amazing.
I love the fact that Wells Fargo is so supportive and encouraging with team members volunteering.
Having a set of volunteers who care, who show that compassion towards our participants, is really part of our program. To create a sense of community and a sense of caring.
Housing, food, and self-sufficiency
One of the nonprofits that will benefit from the Holiday Food Bank is Outreach United Resource Center Inc., or OUR Center, in Longmont, Colorado, which provides access to food and other resources to help people become self-sufficient.
“One of our main activities in helping people be self-sufficient is establishing their housing,” said Edwina Salazar, executive director for OUR Center. “For a family of four having trouble paying their rent or utilities, $200 saved from not having to buy groceries is money they can put toward their rent instead — stabilizing their housing situation and preventing homelessness.”
OUR Center provides groceries and hot meals onsite to 18,000 households each year, Salazar said. In 2017, OUR Center distributed over 1 million pounds of groceries and served 108,000 hot meals.
More than half of its food comes from Community Food Share, a Feeding America member food bank in Louisville, Colorado, she said.
New program features for 2018
The inaugural 2017 Holiday Food Bank program collected more than 251,000 pounds of food and provided more than 433,800 meals, said Wells Fargo Chief Marketing Officer Jamie Moldafsky. The support also comes during the crucial winter months, which often force people to choose between buying food or paying to heat their homes.
“Turning America’s largest bank into America’s largest food bank, and further focusing on hunger this year by teaming with Feeding America, will allow us to touch more lives, fill more pantries and plates, and create another way for people to give a very meaningful gift — food and relief from hunger — this holiday season,” Moldafsky said.
Wells Fargo officially kicks off this year’s program Nov. 13 with the announcement of a $4 million grant to Feeding America. Wells Fargo will match monetary donations up to $1 million for a total possible grant to Feeding America of $5 million — which helps to provide 50 million meals. $1 contributed to Feeding America helps member food banks provide at least 10 meals.
“The most significant aspect of the Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank program is that it will help every single food bank in the Feeding America network,” said Babineaux-Fontenot. “It will provide thousands of pounds of food to people in need and will raise more than $5 million in donations from Wells Fargo and the public to support local and national hunger-relief efforts.”
Supporting communities year-round
Although the USDA’s estimated number of people who are food insecure is declining year over year, it is still higher than pre-recession levels, said Babineaux-Fontenot, citing the USDA’s “Food Security in the United States” report. Food insecurity rates for African American households, Latino households, households with children, and those households with children headed by a single parent in particular remain well above average, she added.
“When the recession began, the number of people facing hunger skyrocketed to 52 million,” she said. “We’re heartened by the news that more people have the meals they need, however there is still a lot of work to be done. In a country as abundant as ours and with such remarkable generosity, there are still people who are forced to make tough choices. Not even one person should be without enough to eat or have to choose between heat and food.”
The Holiday Food Bank program adds to Wells Fargo’s year-round philanthropic support of nonprofit organizations and volunteerism by the company’s more than 260,000 team members. In 2017, Wells Fargo donated a total of $286.5 million to more than 14,500 nonprofits, and team members volunteered a record 2 million volunteer hours to their favorite charities. The support is part of Wells Fargo’s pledge to increase its corporate giving to nonprofits to $400 million in 2018 — up 40 percent from 2017.
This year, from Nov. 13 to Dec. 31 alone, Wells Fargo volunteers will support hundreds of food-related nonprofits — delivering meals, sorting food, and working to fight hunger in the United States and around the world.
“At Wells Fargo, we believe we’re in a position to help move people and families out of poverty and build financial stability. It starts with ensuring that all people have access to basic human needs like food, stable housing, employment, and education — which all contribute to improved well-being, and quality of life,” said Jon Campbell, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation.
“Thanks to the generosity of our team members, customers, and Feeding America, we’ll be able to make the holiday season a little brighter for many people this year.”