Hunger exists in every community in the country, affecting nearly 50 million Americans, including 16 million children. That translates to one of out every seven people in the U.S., meaning we all likely know people who struggle to provide food for their family. In fact, households with children experience food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without.
In September we recognized Hunger Action Month, a month-long effort to raise awareness about hunger relief and call on citizens to take action to fight hunger in their communities. Food insecurity, however, is often a daily concern and can be particularly devastating among children, impacting their ability to learn, grow and thrive. With school back in session, now is the perfect time for each of us to do our part to make sure children’s stomachs are as full as their backpacks.
At Citizens Bank, we lead a year-round effort to end hunger through Citizens Helping Citizens Fight Hunger to help feed the hungry in the local communities we serve. In the Greater Philadelphia region, three quarters of a million people are at risk for food insecurity each year, with children making up 30 percent of that figure. In New Jersey, over 1 million people live each day facing food insecurity, with children making up nearly 17 percent of that number. Citizens Bank is helping to reduce these statistics through collaborative programs with partners in the region. We have partnered with Cathedral Soup Kitchen, the largest emergency food provider in Camden, to support both their CK Meal Program and Culinary Arts Training Program, which includes certification training, interviewing skills and financial literacy. In addition, Citizens Bank supports food pantries, summer hunger programs and improved access to healthy food through our contributions and volunteer efforts throughout the region.
For the past six years, we have partnered with the Philadelphia Phillies and Philabundance on the Phans Feeding Families program to provide more than 500,000 meals to local families in need. We have also partnered with The Food Trust, a nationally recognized nonprofit, on the Healthy Corner Store Initiative to support corner store owners committed to making healthy changes for their customers and their businesses.
Citizens Bank strives to set an example in the local communities where we operate. In 2016, through contributions to local food banks and other food programs, we’re donating 3.3 million meals to feed our neighbors in need. In addition, our colleagues are actively engaged in the fight against hunger through food drives and volunteering at local food banks. We’re also leveraging our social media channels and giving our followers information on how they can join the year-round fight against hunger. We encourage everyone to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.
It takes an ongoing and long-term commitment to end hunger. Whether it’s by advocating and raising awareness, making a donation, or volunteering, we all can help lay the critical foundation for a healthy, happy future for our children. Together, we can make a difference for so many of our neighbors in need all year long.
Dan Fitzpatrick is president of Citizens Bank, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 6, Issue 10 (October, 2016).
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