Peoples Bank customers, vendors, and employees recently came together and raised more than $34,000 for local food banks in Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. More than $16,000 alone was raised in Washington County and will go toward the Southeast Ohio Food Bank's efforts in 10 counties.
"The funds raised in each community go back 100 percent to the community it came from," said Chuck Sulerzyski, Peoples Bank President and Chief Executive Officer. "The people who benefit from this effort are our neighbors and friends. This has truly been a community to community effort."
The initiative was an offshoot from the bank's ongoing involvement in the Hunger Solutions Mid-Ohio Valley taskforce. When combined with Peoples Bancorp Foundation donations, a total of $60,000 has been given to local food banks during the past two years.
"We challenged our associates, vendors, and customers to make a difference. Everyone participated by hosting bakes sales, donating funds, ice-cream sundae fundraisers, fun walk/run competition, pies in the face, silent auctions, and talking to our customers/community and vendors about the importance of local food banks," said Rick Stafford, Peoples Bank EVP Sales & Marketing. "Without the collective support of everyone working together, this couldn't have happen. We are blown away by everyone's passion, loyalty, and commitment to the cause."
Food banks are communities' safety net for the 26 percent of people nationwide who experience hunger but are not eligible for government nutrition programs. Hunger and poor nutrition are a growing problem in the region, especially among families with children.
Stafford indicated the USDA's annual study on food insecurity (the number of individuals who do not always have enough food - especially nutritionally adequate food - for an active, healthy life for all household members) found that in 2012 more than 24 percent of children and nearly 16 percent of individuals within the bank's market footprint experienced food insecurity.
"Hunger among children has a major impact on not only health care costs later in life, but also educational achievement, worker productivity, and eventually the ability of the region and nation to compete in a global economy," said Stafford.
Hunger Solutions Mid-Ohio Valley taskforce is a community-based, collaborative plan to raise awareness and help eliminate hunger in the region formed by Peoples Bank, Memorial Health Systems, Marietta College, and Bricker & Eckler Attorneys at Law. To learn more about the taskforce and ways you or your business can make a difference, visit hungersolutionsmov.com.