Capital One’s Hunger Relief Efforts

Feeding those in need and assisting communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic

As people across the country are adjusting to a new normal in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, one mother of seven is faced with juggling more jobs than ever before.

Celine, a Louisiana-based web designer, is spending less time behind her screen than she is shuffling pots, pans and toys — simultaneously serving as a master chef, full-time childcare provider and health aid to her elderly parents.

As the pandemic has evolved, opportunities for her web design work have dwindled. Unfortunately, she does not qualify for unemployment benefits or small business loans and is left to single-handedly tend to her new jobs.

With the additional stress and financial strain her family was experiencing, Celine was relieved to discover that the YMCA of Greater New Orleans is offering social support services for families, including free breakfast and lunch for families at four locations across the city. 

“When I found the YMCA providing meals, it became an afternoon routine for us to go outside and drive around,” Celine said. “It gives me the convenience of not having to prepare some meals for everyone, and helps financially as well, since I could skip buying take-out food or ordering snacks online.” 

Those meals are made possible in part through support from Capital One as part of our larger community response to COVID-19. While we have a long-standing relationship with the YMCA nationally, Capital One increased and adjusted its support in 2020 to help feed communities in a time of crisis.

From late March through the state’s shift to Phase 2 of reopening on June 9, the YMCA of Greater New Orleans distributed 35,000 meals. 

While its partnership with the Three O’Clock Project provided the organization with nutritious meals at nearly no cost, more than 80% of the organization’s revenue stream vanished when it shut down and furloughed its workers on March 15.

Grants like the funding provided by Capital One helped the YMCA of Greater New Orleans reopen by the end of March and provided income to 40 workers to distribute meals.

“The grants from Capital One were super helpful because we’re doing emergency work, spending our emergency reserves,” Gordon Wadge, President & CEO of The YMCA of Greater New Orleans, said. “Capital One’s grant helped us pay our workers.” 

During Phase 2 of the pandemic in New Orleans, this grant will enable the organization to distribute an estimated 20,000 meals to children that attend their summer camp.

Our support to the YMCA of Greater New Orleans holds added sentimental value to Karen DeBlieux, Vice President of U.S. Corporate Banking at Capital One, who met her husband at the organization's "Leaders Club" as a teenager and now serves as an emeritus member of the YMCA's board of trustees.

"The YMCA of New Orleans is working tirelessly to provide a safe space for today's youth to grow during these difficult times — just as it once did for me," DeBlieux said. "Capital One is proud to expand our partnership with the organization as they are providing critical resources for kids and families in the community."

Hungry for Relief

In addition to our support in Louisiana, Capital One’s commitment to hunger relief in local markets extends far beyond the bayou. We’ve helped organizations like FeedMore, the Central Virginia Food Bank, distribute 600,000 meals in the region. We assisted the Food Bank of Delaware, Feeding Tampa and Three Square in Las Vegas in providing meals to area residents. In Texas, we’ve helped the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County serve meals and provide groceries at several locations across Arlington-Fort Worth. 

Nationally, we helped expand The Power of 10 — an initiative that brings restaurant workers back to work to support food access to those in need — to eight U.S. cities. Since May, The Power of 10 has donated more than 130,000 meals and provided income to workers at 38 restaurants. Capital One also supports Get Shift Done, an organization connecting hospitality workers adversely impacted by COVID-19 with nonprofits in need of workers to provide hunger relief. Since March, Get Shift Done has served more than 18 million meals and provided income to 11,000 hospitality workers in 11 cities.  

To assist communities with remedying challenges unique to their population, the Capital One Foundation and Capital One provided over $1 million through grant funding and an associate donation match program to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, whose goal is to distribute over one billion meals.

This nonprofit estimates that the pandemic could push 17 million additional Americans into food insecurity — meaning one in every six Americans could face hunger this year.

Our grant directly supports Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which targets specific requests from each of the 200 food banks in its network. To date, nearly each member has requested relief specific to their needs.

“Capital One’s grant has allowed for the money to be invested as equitably as humanly possible,” Doug Montgomery, Director of New Partnerships at Feeding America, said. “In our current situation with the civil unrest, equity is so important to factor in — more so than ever before — because the disease is affecting the Black populations and Hispanic populations much more so. For us to make it a priority and for Capital One to honor that, is a dream scenario.”

In addition to financial support, Capital One’s associates have helped its nonprofit partners tackle issues specific to their changing needs. 

When Capital One learned that the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, DC was overwhelmed by requests for information about its services, the bank’s Brand team stepped in to lend a hand.

The team created modifiable design templates crafted specifically for the food bank’s website and social media channels to easily share its impact.

“It’s an important core value not only for Capital One but for us as humans,” Joanna Miller, a senior art director for Capital One’s Brand team, said. “There are those of us that are in more of a high-risk situation, we can’t really do our part in person, but to know that we can do it from the safety of our homes has been extremely meaningful.”

The need for food and hunger relief is especially acute during this time, as Feeding America estimates that nearly 40% of people currently receiving charitable food assistance began doing so in the wake of the pandemic.

Celine and her family were among those seeking this type of support for the first time. 

“I am not used to ‘asking for help,’” she said, “It has been an awkward feeling to drive up and ask for food, but the lady ... always made our stop quick and comfortable. She knows how many packages I'll need by the time I pull up.”

During these uncertain times, such humanity and kindness is not soon forgotten. Celine is already thinking about paying it forward to the YMCA. 

“When I have the ability in the future, I would like to contribute [back].”

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