United Way — fighting hunger to build stronger communities
In more than 11,000 communities across the U.S., United Way works to improve the health, education, and financial stability of every person, including those without enough to eat.
“Viewpoints” invites guest authors from outside of Wells Fargo to share an important perspective related to their work. Today, we welcome Mary Sellers, U.S. president of United Way Worldwide.
Every day, millions of people look to United Way for lasting solutions to local problems. We are a vehicle for volunteers, donors, and advocates who seek to change lives and communities. As the largest privately funded nonprofit in the world, United Way connects people and companies with the causes that matter to them the most.
United Way doesn’t focus on just one issue; we fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person, in every community. We go after communities’ toughest challenges, creating new solutions to old problems. And we work with people from all walks of life to turn those solutions into action.
But we don’t do it alone. We’re working alongside nearly 3 million volunteers and 9 million donors. Our closest allies are employers — like Wells Fargo — and more than 60,000 other companies across the world, including 280 of the Fortune 500. Together, we’re making life better for 61 million people, in nearly 1,800 communities across 40 countries.
One of the toughest challenges we’re fighting in America is hunger. One in six children doesn’t know when their next meal will be.
Kids who don’t get enough to eat begin life with a serious disadvantage. Hungry children are more likely to be hospitalized and face higher risks of health problems like anemia and asthma. As they grow up, youth struggling to get enough food are more likely to have problems in school and other social situations.
United Way is fighting this problem, community by community. Here are a few examples:
- United Way of New York City provided nearly 2 million meals to hungry New Yorkers last year through its Hunger Prevention Nutrition and Assistance Program. United Way also gives food grants to 350 food pantries and soup kitchens, requiring grantees to spend at least 15 percent on fresh produce. And United Way connects local farmers to food pantries, distributing almost 2 million pounds of fresh, local produce to low-wage neighborhoods across the city.
- In Southeastern Connecticut, where 19,000 people live in poverty, United Way of Southeastern Connecticut runs the local food bank. With the help of volunteers, it provides food for 20,000 people each month. United Way also operates a mobile food pantry, which distributed more than 285,000 meals last year.
- And in Toledo, Ohio, United Way of Greater Toledo has led the charge to make sure every student starts the day with a healthy breakfast. Although 80 percent of Toledo’s students qualified for free breakfast, far fewer were taking part. United Way helped enact a citywide free breakfast for all public schools. Since then, participation has increased 65 percent; tardiness and disciplinary incidents have decreased.
Making more holiday meals possible
United Way’s effort to fight hunger is getting a big boost, thanks to a $5 million grant from Wells Fargo. Over the next two years, it will add momentum to work happening in communities across America.
Meanwhile, Wells Fargo and United Way launched a Holiday Food Bank program — which runs through Dec. 30 — to help more families get food. So far, volunteers have contributed 40,000 pounds of food, which translates into 52,000 meals.
One in seven Americans rely on food pantries and meal programs, so please consider donating nonperishable food today. It’s easy, convenient, and makes a huge difference — and you can drop off donations at your local Wells Fargo branch.
There are other ways you can get involved to fight hunger in your community, all year long. You can volunteer at your local food bank; start a community garden; launch a food drive at your church, mosque, or synagogue; or speak up for local and state policies that help feed the hungry. Contact your local United Way to find out how you can make a difference.
Join us. If we fight hunger together, we can make real change — across the country and in your own backyard.