Working Together to Fight Hunger during COVID-19

May 13, 2020
Carla Hassan, Chief Brand Officer

For millions of people in America, the same lockdowns and social distancing measures that are protecting them from COVID-19 have halted their work and income – leaving them wondering how they'll access the basic resources they need to survive. For these people, and millions like them around the world, the pandemic is intensifying the threat of an equally dire crisis: hunger.

According to the United Nations World Food Program, COVID-19 could push 130 million more people into severe hunger. The pandemic has impacted everything from the global economy and supply chains to humanitarian access, and is endangering at-risk populations.

Children are particularly vulnerable. In the U.S., nearly 22 million children rely on the meals they receive at school, which they aren't able to access while schools are closed across the country. New estimates from Feeding America show that 1 in 4 children in the U.S. could face hunger this year because of the coronavirus.

But children aren't alone. Seniors who face a heightened risk of health complications from COVID-19 are also struggling. Many are isolating themselves, which limits their access to the meal services they rely on.

Many of the resources these communities would typically turn to – schools, city services, food banks – are working tirelessly, but are struggling to meet this greater need on their own. In response, organizations across industries and sectors are stepping up to help. They understand that while treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19 are in development, there are steps they can take now to fight hunger.

This week, Citi announced we're providing up to $2.5 million to support World Central Kitchen's (WCK) #ChefsForAmerica relief effort. For the past 10 years, WCK has worked to use the power of food to heal and strengthen communities in times of crisis and beyond, and has served 18 million meals to date. Right now, WCK is using food to help communities during this current crisis. With support from organizations like Citi, WCK is activating restaurants across the country to provide nourishing meals to vulnerable communities and brave medical professionals on the front lines, which helps keep the restaurants afloat and gets their teams working again. WCK is currently serving 250,000 meals a day across the U.S., and its COVID-19 relief response, #ChefsForAmerica, has provided nearly 7 million fresh meals.

With our commitment, Citi is funding 250,000 total meals across the U.S. and supporting the evolution of the #ChefsForAmerica program. To raise awareness of the program among Citi customers, we're donating $5 (up to $1 million) for each primary account holder who registers for digital account access for the first time, then logs in at least twice in May. This will ultimately fund 100,000 meals, which will be distributed across the country. Also as part of this initiative, Citi will fund the purchase of 100,000 meals from independent Harlem restaurants to be distributed in the surrounding neighborhood – a community where we have deep ties. The remaining 50,000 meals will be donated to NYC public and affordable housing developments through the Citi Community Capital team, which has also worked to rally their clients who are invested in these developments and surrounding communities to increase their impact by providing tens of thousands more meals.

Together, these efforts will help get meals to those who need them most, while also helping the restaurant industry and small businesses keep their doors open.

We're also proud to continue our long-standing partnership with No Kid Hungry, which is tailoring their response to meet communities' changing needs and continuing their work to ensure every kid gets three meals a day. Together with our Citi Foundation and a matching donation program, we provided $7 million to support their emergency Food Distribution Programs across the U.S. As schools and businesses remain closed because of the pandemic, No Kid Hungry is continuing to evolve their strategy to help ensure every child gets the healthy food they need. They are working with communities to meet emergency needs, by providing grants for food and supplies and launching a new national meals-finder.

Additionally, Citi is joining forces with &pizza to expand their Hero Pie program, which is helping to feed frontline workers. With our support, the program will expand and deliver up to 100,000 pizzas to more hospital workers.

Recognizing that our food facilities at our 388 Greenwich Street headquarters had untapped capacity to help those in need, we also worked with our catering supply chain partners and United Neighborhood Houses NY to repurpose the space and distribute up to 1,000 meals daily to families across New York City.

At the same time, Citi's North America Rates business ran a charitable campaign to donate $1 to Food Bank for New York City for every $1 million traded electronically in interest rate products in the U.S. Throughout April, $610,000 was raised to help provide meals for families, healthcare workers and first responders across the city.

In a similar capacity, Citi's North America Rates business raised over $290,000 for Citi's longtime partner, City Harvest, by donating $1 for every $1 million traded electronically in interest rate products in the U.S. Citi colleagues are also supporting City Harvest's yearly Skip Lunch Fight Hunger campaign (SLFH), which, for 18-years, has been dedicated to feeding NYC children in need during the summer months. Given school closures, the need is greater now more than ever. As of May 13, Citi colleagues have raised over $150,000. The SLFH campaign will run through May 31.

The need to respond to growing hunger and greater vulnerability is critical, and these organizations are doing life-changing work. Citi is proud to support them as they get food to those that need it most.

Personally, I couldn't be more proud of the teams pushing this work forward. It makes me feel incredibly grateful to be part of the Citi family.

Even if we're apart, we will get through this together.

Sign up to receive the latest news from Citi.