From one bank to another

For many of us, eating is something we build our day around. It gets us through the worst Monday mornings, keeps us going through busy working days, and fills us up at night before bed. It’s a time to socialise, spend time with family, and often, to make a great first impression on a special someone…

But having access to something as elementary as food is a privilege we can easily take for granted. In the US, recent statistics show that one in six families are food insecure – meaning almost 21 million families don’t have access to affordable, nutritious food.

That’s where food banks come in. They provide an invaluable service to those families across the States, making sure they have healthy food on the table, three times a day. Barclays US Consumer Bank colleagues have seen the effects of hunger first-hand in their neighbourhood, which is why every year, we help local communities fight hunger through our food drive initiative. As part of our shared growth and employability plan, we focused this year’s efforts on three states – Nevada, Maine and Delaware.

And it’s not just a case of sending food to people who need it – Barclays Bank US have been working with these food banks to help younger generations build a future where food poverty is a thing of the past.

These are the places we’ve been helping this year.

Fair and Square

Southern Nevada is home to almost over two million people, says DeAndre Esteen, Community Relations, Barclays US Consumer Bank, and nearly everyone in the state is affected by food banks, either directly or indirectly. “As a society, we’re all essentially one pay-cheque away from not knowing where our next meal is coming from,” he says. “It can happen to anyone, so it’s important for everyone to get behind this cause.”

There’s a huge disparity between the meals needed to feed everyone, and the number of meals made available through charity and federal nutrition programmes, so contributions from businesses like Barclays are vital – but there’s always room for more.

Working alongside our community partner, Three Square Food Bank, the Barclays teams at Henderson, Nevada compete amongst themselves in what DeAndre calls the ‘End Hunger Games’ – a fiercely friendly competition where teams from all departments vie to donate the most food, and win bragging rights for the year. “It’s a collaborative effort to combat hunger in our respective communities,” he says.

And it’s had huge benefits for local communities: “Our teams are very competitive, but also understand the big picture,” explains DeAndre. “It’s our fourth year doing this, and each year the poundage of food we’ve raised has soared – along with the number of teams taking part.”

The Barclays food drive is colleague led , so all the food that the teams raise goes to families in their own communities – meaning our colleagues are able to see the change they’ve contributed to.

The ‘giving’ in ‘Thanksgiving’

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s a time for us to appreciate what we have – but also a time to share with others. That’s certainly true for the team at Wilton, Maine, who, in partnership with the Clearwater Ministries Food Pantry, are taking the fight to famine.

Maine has plenty of food, but around 15% of its population are considered food-insecure. This group often needs to make the decision between feeding their families or paying living expenses – a heart-breaking decision, considering that 20% of children in Maine are under-nourished. By teaming up with Clearwater Food Pantry, we’re able to start tearing down the economic barriers that contribute towards Maine’s hunger problem.

Brian MacLeod, Virtual Channels Operations, Barclays US Consumer Bank, says: “Nobody should be hungry at any time of the year, let alone on Thanksgiving. Our teams decorate and fill a basket each with traditional food, to donate to a family in need in the area. It’s a great time to make the most of people’s enthusiasm and direct it towards helping those less fortunate than ourselves.”

We believe the children are the future

To improve the lives of young people, colleagues in Maine have also partnered with local school districts on a mentoring programme designed to get kids enthusiastic about learning life skills, including cooking.

“If we can build enthusiasm, children can develop these skills early,” he says. “It’s our hope that they’ll grow to love cooking in the future.”

Cooking up a storm

Educating culinary skills isn’t just limited to Maine, however, as Barclays US Consumer Bank continues its support for the Food Bank of Delaware and their Culinary School programme, a 14-week Delaware Department of Education-certified course that teaches students from low-income, disadvantaged, or homeless backgrounds how to work in the food industry. “These programs teach skills that can lead to economic stability for graduates and their families.” says Clint Walker, Managing Director for Barclays US Consumer Bank. “We’re proud to partner with the Food Bank of Delaware.”

Putting our money where their mouth is

And a $175,000 Barclays donation, presented at the graduation of one class of Culinary School graduates, is one of the ways we showed some love for programmes that offer training and job opportunities in our local communities. “Listening to the student’s stories, I know they have a bright future ahead of them,” says Heather Craig, Community Investment Lead, Barclays US Consumer Bank.

Barclays’ partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware has a long history, stretching back almost a decade. We’ve even won a few accolades over the years, including their 2018 Bounty Award for most food donated.

Last orders

With our contributions, we’re hoping to combat hunger wherever we can – but it’s an ongoing struggle. We look forward to collaborating with all of the fantastic food banks across America for many years to come, with the hope that one day, hunger will be gone for good.