Credit Unions for Hunger Relief Initiative Unveiled

The 13th Annual Star Gala was an unforgettable event on many levels. It gave credit union members a much-needed time to reconnect with their colleagues and recognize the outstanding achievements of their peers over a challenging year. 

But one of the most impactful moments of the Gala was the announcement of a new MWCUF initiative – Credit Unions for Hunger Relief – which was introduced officially by Dr. Dan Santangelo.

Referencing the many needs that surfaced during the pandemic, Dr. Santangelo pointed out that local “first responder” community organizations dealing with food insecurity needed help and resources. Initially, the Foundation donated $250,000 across the three member states, but the Foundation as a whole decided they wanted to do more. The Credit Unions for Hunger Relief Initiative was born, providing a structure for credit unions to have a tangible impact on food insecurity in their local communities.

“As credit unions, it is in our DNA to serve people. Our mission is based on principles of people helping people, serving the underserved, and community service. This program is a natural fit.” Eric Renaud, Board Member, MWCUF

The Need is Great

Food insecurity is defined as the inability to provide enough food for every household member to ensure living an active and healthy life. According to Dennis Paul, Secretary at the MWCUA Foundation, one out of every eight people in Wyoming and Arizona are food insecure. One out of 10 people in Colorado is also in danger of going hungry. Food insecurity is a shared community-based problem that affects the most vulnerable across all three member states. 

Tyler Valentine, Treasurer at MWCUF, noted that local and regional assistance organizations often struggled to meet the community’s needs in normal times – but found themselves in dire need during the pandemic. Resources dwindled and disappeared. Therefore, the Foundation didn’t have to look very far when determining how they could best help with the growing food insecurity issues. Because these organizations already existed in nearly all communities, the MWCUA could quickly implement support and relief.

“There’s nothing like the feeling of seeing people come through, people with hungry kids in the car, and being able to give them what they need. Their eyes light up, and ours fill with tears.” Jennie Gordon, First Lady of Wyoming and CUHR spokesperson

MWCUA Foundation and the Hunger Initiative

“As the reality of both the health and financial impacts began to set in, credit unions did what they always do – they jumped in to help.” Todd Pearson, Chair at MWCUF

Traditionally, the Foundation directed its funds towards CU-specific needs, such as education and scholarships. However, the CU movement has long been recognized for serving the underserved and working towards impacting their communities. The Credit Unions for Hunger Relief initiative is a perfect fit for this mission. It empowers local members to take ownership of their local efforts and to structure their own unique programs. Their efforts will be matched up to $100,000 by the MWCUA Foundation, with an overall first-year goal of $200,000 going to local organizations fighting food insecurity.

The Foundation officially kicked off the Hunger Relief Initiative at the September Gala and wasted no time beginning its fundraising efforts. Event emcees challenged attendees to donate to the CUFHR initiative on the spot, and event coordinators asked for bar stations to be closed until $5,000 was raised. As usual, membership rose to the occasion, donating $7,835.37 in just under an hour – giving the initiative a rousing jumpstart.

In a video presentation designed to explain the new initiative, Jennie Gordon vocalized the heart of the Hunger Relief Initiative and our CU members’ involvement. “We all need to contribute where we can, when we can – because one day the shoe may be on the other foot.” 

The MWCUA Foundation is proud to help our local communities to fight food insecurity and protect the most vulnerable.

For more information on the Credit Unions for Hunger Relief initiative, watch the video.
For more information on fundraising guidelines, contact:

Dr. Dan Santangelo
Executive Director
dsantangelo@gowest.org

Caroline Barragan
Foundation Manager of Development and Administration