It’s a significant issue. In the United States alone, food insecurity impacts more than 34 million people, including 9 million children.
Not having access to sufficient food, or food of an adequate quality, to meet one’s basic needs remains one of our society’s biggest problems. Santander Consumer USA (SC) and its employees understand this concern and are using company-provided Volunteer Paid Time Off (VPTO) hours and charitable contributions to help combat the issue.
This fall through the holiday season, Santander associates are participating in a companywide service campaign to address food insecurity. Employees will have the opportunity to volunteer at one of more than 40 service events at over a dozen different nonprofits to pack, sort and distribute food items for families in need. With its corporate VPTO program, the company anticipates Santander employees will give more than 1,000 volunteer hours this holiday season.
Food pantry support
During its Fighting Food Insecurity campaign, Santander partners with dozens of nonprofits such as the North Texas Food Bank. Employees are given the opportunity to help package healthy complex foods into bags/boxes that will be distributed to hungry neighbors in the upcoming days.
“Food insecurity refers to the lack of reliable access to nutritious foods. It is disheartening that there is so much uncertainty around where some folks will get their next meal,” said Aisha Lusk, Associate, Community Volunteer Events, who helps organize and schedule the employee volunteer events. “It’s amazing to see 125 SC volunteers participate in 25 different volunteer projects that help fight hunger.”
Another food pantry where Santander employees have been volunteering is found at Jubilee Park & Community Center, a 2022 SC Foundation grantee. Covering 62 blocks in southeast Dallas, Jubilee Park opened in 1997 with the goal of improving lives and strengthening the community.
Through its five pillars of comprehensive community revitalization – opportunity, education and workforce, housing, health and safety – the nonprofit is dedicated to bettering the community through its food pantry, Habitat for Humanity houses, after school programs for children, health care clinic and so much more.
“Jubilee Park’s food pantry has served more than 300 families and distributed more than 91,000 pounds of food since opening in February 2023,” said Jubilee Park CEO, Marissa Castro Mikoy. “Thanks to volunteers like those from Santander, we are able to walk with our neighbors as they face the daily challenges of food insecurity and unemployment and empower them with hope and stability.”
While volunteering, Santander employees helped unload shipments, stock shelves, fill carts and organize the food pantries for Jubilee shoppers.
Jubilee Park also hosted meal-serving events, where employees provided much-needed companionship while combatting food insecurity among senior citizens by helping with set up, serving meals to seniors and cleaning up the dining area.
This year, as in years past, Santander employees gathered in Plano, Texas, to support the North Texas Food Bank. Twenty-two Santander employees helped sort and pack donations at the facility.
“Knowing food insecurity is a big issue for our community, volunteering at the North Texas Food Bank is a VPTO opportunity I always gravitate toward,” said Tara Thomas, Director, Digital Marketing, who was at the event. “Working alongside my peers, hearing the total number of boxes we packed and seeing our efforts come to fruition is very rewarding — all while giving back to the community I love!”
Santander grants to fight food insecurity
The Santander Consumer USA Inc. Foundation has also provided grants for a number of years to several organizations to help address food insecurity. This year’s grantees include:
North Texas Food Bank ($100,000) Funding will support renewal of the North Texas fleet grant. Fleet funding allows the food bank to cover the high budget line item to transport food to the region. The organization provides 375,000 meals each day for children, seniors and families facing hunger through a network of more than 400 partnering community organizations across 13 counties throughout a 10,000-square-mile service area with 14 full-time drivers managing a fleet of eight box trucks and 11 semi-trailers.
United Food Bank ($50,000) Funding will support renewal of the fleet fuel cost grant.
The above are just a few of the many organizations Santander has partnered with over the year. And we are looking forward to more opportunities to support in 2024 and beyond.