More Than 55 Million Plates Filled

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More Than 55 Million Plates Filled

In a joint effort with Feeding America®, the 2018 Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank collected enough food and money to help provide more than 55.7 million meals throughout the nation.
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.@FeedingAmerica and @WellsFargo provide 55.7 million meals to fight #hunger. #HolidayFoodBank. https://stories.wf.com/55-million-plates-filled

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 1:00pm

The 2018 Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank secured more than 55.7 million meals* during the holidays.

Feeding America® joined Wells Fargo’s 2018 effort to fight against hunger in this, the program’s second year. From Nov. 13 to Dec. 31, 2018, Wells Fargo branches doubled as food banks, accepting donations of nonperishable food and money for local food banks throughout the nation. It also offered opportunities for participants to donate through a mobile food bank — which popped up in nine cities from California to New York — and, in response to customer requests, it enabled monetary contributions at its ATMs and online. Visit Wells Fargo Stories to watch the video.

Wells Fargo kicked off the 2018 Holiday Food Bank program Nov. 13 with a $4 million grant to Feeding America, matching donations up to $1 million. Throughout the national effort, Wells Fargo team members built canned food sculptures in six cities and organized special volunteer projects on top of existing volunteerism to help food-related nonprofits.

Team member volunteers like Bekkah Moss, a Wells Fargo teller in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, have made giving back a lifestyle. She and her children deliver groceries twice a month to local nonprofits through Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina, a member food bank in the Feeding America network.

“Thanks to everyone who stopped by a branch, ATM, or mobile pop-up location, or visited our website to join us in this important effort to feed the hungry,” said Mary Mack, head of Wells Fargo Consumer Banking.

“Each and every day our team members help customers improve their financial futures,” she said. “Their support in turning our retail branches all across the country into food banks this past holiday season was an extension of that commitment — and one that continues all year long through contributions of time, talents, and money to so many local, food-related nonprofits.”

Nearly 2,300 team members volunteered more than 9,000 hours over the holidays to support 93 food-related nonprofits — up more than 20 percent from the year before.

Those results add to Wells Fargo’s year-round philanthropic support of nonprofit organizations and volunteerism by the company’s more than 260,000 team members. In 2018, the company exceeded its philanthropy target of donating $400 million in communities across the U.S.

Mack joined other company leaders in making donations at pop-up food banks and volunteering at food-related nonprofits.

“Whether it was a team member in Florida who drew on his own past experience with food insecurity to champion collections at his location and add his own donations, the customer in North Carolina who literally emptied her own cupboard to fill three boxes of food herself at one branch, or the thousands of customers and noncustomers alike who dropped off food or contributed financially at our ATMs,” Mack said,  “the outpouring of compassion and support for local food banks and their mission this year was inspiring.”

Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot expressed excitement about the opportunity to join Wells Fargo’s Holiday Food Bank program in 2018 to collectively address a little-known problem that is estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to affect one in eight Americans: food insecurity (not knowing where the next meal will come from). About 40 million people are believed to be food insecure, according to the USDA, including more than 12 million children.

“It takes all of us — businesses, individuals, charities, and local, state, and national governments — to get more food to more people so fewer people are hungry, which is why efforts like the Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank are so important,” Babineaux-Fontenot said. “No one can fight a problem as big as hunger alone.”

Through ATM donations and other Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank financial contributions, each of the Feeding America member food banks will receive a grant of $5,000, Babineaux-Fontenot said.

“The most significant aspect of the Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank program is its reach. By helping every single food bank in the Feeding America network, you touch thousands of lives in every county in the United States, not just during the holidays but beyond,” Babineaux-Fontenot said.

Team members join forces to fight hunger

“Hunger is everywhere,” said Jon Campbell, head of Wells Fargo Corporate Philanthropy and Community Relations. “Too many people in every state, and in communities both urban and rural, don’t always know how they’ll get food on the table. Some skip meals, opting to pay utility bills instead of buying groceries. Those living in rural areas like my hometown may drive many miles to find healthy and affordable food.

“As a result,” he continued, “food banks and food pantries are critical emergency resources — which is why we were so fortunate to have Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger-relief organization, working alongside us this year.”

An Edelman Intelligence study conducted Nov. 12-14, 2018, for Wells Fargo found that more than half of the people surveyed across the country said they or someone they knew experienced food insecurity.

“In our survey, people not only told us they were more likely to donate food this year than last, but also said they would be more likely to donate food if they knew about the specific impact of their food donation,” Campbell said. “With Feeding America, everything contributed through the Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank went right back to local food banks, serving communities.”

‘One simple but powerful act of kindness’

While hunger is a year-round problem, the company used its joint effort with Feeding America to focus on the holidays and winter months, when needs become especially acute and many face the choice of buying food or paying to heat their homes, said Wells Fargo Chief Marketing Officer Jamie Moldafsky.

“Turning one of the nation’s largest banks into the largest food bank, and using our size and scale to focus on hunger with Feeding America and encourage everyone to #GiveWhatYouCan made a difference,” Moldafsky said. “People rallied around those in need to give a very meaningful gift — relief from hunger — in one simple but powerful act of kindness.”

Among those acts: a donation by a World War II veteran in Virginia; customers and team members joining together to build a food tree in a North Carolina bank branch; and 200 Wells Fargo volunteers in Minneapolis sorting and packing 28,105 pounds of produce for a food bank.

“Although he had only been a customer for a few months, Floyd Callihan, one of our customers and a World War II veteran, saw our Wells Fargo Holiday Food Bank display and came back with a bagful of donations,” said Ashley Tarry, who manages the Wells Fargo branch in Goochland, Virginia. “That’s just how Mr. Callihan is. He’s always thinking of others. We’re blessed to have so many customers like that.”

In Mount Airy, North Carolina, customers helped Chris Driggers and his team build a food tree at Wells Fargo’s branch on North Main Street.

“Team members and customers provided canned food to build it, and when we took it down, we had six cases of food weighing nearly 400 pounds — food that we know will in turn support local food banks in the Mount Airy area,” Driggers said.

In Minneapolis, Lolita Niebler, a digital product manager for Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust, joined board members of her local chapter of the company’s My Generation Team Member Network to organize a two-day food sorting and packing blitz for Second Harvest Heartland. The Feeding America member food bank also received $20,000 from Wells Fargo Community Relations in one of several regional donations in addition to Holiday Food Bank donations.

“It was incredible to see how many team members turned up, even with a major snowstorm earlier one day, which illustrates the energy and compassion our team members have for the community,” Niebler said. 

Added Anne Bartoloni, a client relationship manager in Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and My Generation chapter board member, “The work that Second Harvest Heartland does is so important for our communities. It was very exciting to see their new building and hear about their plans to grow their own leafy greens in a new way and without dirt or pesticides — innovation that is going to help address food insecurity as well as provide healthy food options for families.”

One of those benefiting personally from Wells Fargo’s food bank support was Naomi Lowe.

Each day, the 9‑year‑old gets a hot meal along with nearly 1,700 other children from Feeding the Valley Food Bank in Midland, Georgia, and its Kids Café program.

“After I come to the Kids Café and I have yummy food, I feel great,” Lowe said, “because I ate and I’m not hungry.”