Holiday Food Bank to make spirits bright again in 2019
Through Dec. 31, Wells Fargo turns its bank branches into food banks and accepts donations through text and ATMs to help Feeding America® fight hunger.
Wells Fargo is once again doubling as a food bank this holiday season — joining Feeding America® in the fight to end hunger.
Now in its third year, the Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank program makes it easy for people to donate food and money to the Feeding America network of food banks. Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, distributing more than 4.3 billion meals annually to people in need through more than 200 member food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs.
From Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, Wells Fargo’s 5,300 bank branches will collect nonperishable food in specially marked bins and deliver them to Feeding America member food banks in January. Wells Fargo also is donating up to $5 million to Feeding America in direct donations and matching funds.
“Wells Fargo’s Holiday Food Bank program is meant to show the power of community spirit, in which we look out for our neighbors by bringing team members, customers, and partners like Feeding America together to stock the shelves of community food banks all around the U.S.” — Brandee McHale
People can also participate by donating online to Feeding America, contributing at Well Fargo ATMs, texting MEALS to 91990, or volunteering at local food banks — just as many of the more than 260,000 team members will do living out their own commitments to their communities during special Food Bank Fridays through Dec. 31.
Wells Fargo will raise awareness of its Holiday Food Bank through a national integrated marketing campaign with content on television, print, online and social. A major element of this year’s program includes a media integration with the “2019 American Music Awards,” which spotlights the need to support hunger-related causes with millions of viewers who tune in to this annual awards show.
As part of the company’s integrated marketing efforts, country music star Thomas Rhett will volunteer with Wells Fargo team members at a local food bank affiliated with Feeding America near his hometown in Nashville, Tennessee, and video highlights from the experience will be shared through social channels as well as integrated in the broadcast of the American Music Awards.
“The holidays should be a time of joy, yet the stress of stretching a paycheck to cover additional expenses can feel overwhelming,” said Brandee McHale, head of the Wells Fargo Foundation.
“Many Americans are struggling with the cost burden of housing, which often contributes to making tradeoffs such as not having enough food,” she said. “Wells Fargo’s Holiday Food Bank program is meant to show the power of community spirit, in which we look out for our neighbors by bringing team members, customers, and partners like Feeding America together to stock the shelves of community food banks all around the U.S.”
How to participate
2018 results: More than 55 million meals
Feeding America helped provide more than 55 million meals* through the 2018 Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank, during which 2,252 Wells Fargo team members volunteered more than 9,000 hours.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture report, “Household Food Security in the United States in 2018,” 37 million people — or one in nine — struggle with hunger in the United States. Feeding America said one in seven turn to member food banks for help.
Trinie Jestine of Roanoke, Virginia, is among them.
The U.S. Navy veteran relocated to the Roanoke Valley from New York City in 2017, and needed food when a medical disability left him unable to work.
He’s among more than 118,000 people Feeding America Southwest Virginia feeds monthly across its 26-county service area — thanks in part to more than 47,800 meals created by the 2018 Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank and 285 hours logged by local Wells Fargo volunteers.
“Thank you so much. There are so many people you help through programs like this,” Jestine said of Wells Fargo Holiday Food bank contributors. “You are awesome, and your spirit is priceless.
“I’m really grateful Feeding America Southwest Virginia exists. They talk to you and care about you. When you walk in, you feel everybody’s warmth and big hearts.”
More than 1,200 miles from Roanoke in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the holiday effort to address the year-round problem of hunger resonates just as strongly with Christina Oey. She joined Feeding South Dakota as development director in 2018 — the latest step in a career dedicated to helping people rise from poverty because of memories of the pain in her own once-empty stomach.
“I was ‘that kid’ growing up hungry in Minneapolis and, as a first grader, took a special bus to school early in the morning just so I could get breakfast,” Oey said. “I went to the local food shelf to get prepackaged boxes of food (we didn’t get to choose) and felt shame going to the grocery store because we used food stamps.
“I still remember the day a neighborhood dog chased me who was after the snack I held in my hands. I ran very fast because I was so hungry and determined to have that snack.”
Along with fighting hunger, special programs like the Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank bring in a variety of food.
“One Christmas, a neighbor brought our family a box of really good food we couldn’t get at the ‘food shelf,’ which is what we called our pantries back then,” she said. “This week at Feeding South Dakota, we received a donation of gluten-free pasta, and I was excited that our pantries can now offer that to people with celiac disease.
“Although we need staples and high-protein foods, we also need a variety of foods that bring joy to people, and I know we’ll get them through the Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank.”
*$1 helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local member food banks.