Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which falls on Monday, January 16, is an opportunity for the nation to pause and remember MLK's incredible work to advance the Civil Rights Movement.
In this spirit, First Interstate encourages employees to spend time around this holiday, observing it as a "day of service."
- Did you know: In 1994, Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, already observed as a holiday, became a National Day of Service? It is the only federal holiday that has earned the distinction.
As we honor the work of MLK, we are highlighting organizations that work to prevent and eliminate food insecurity. And we want to invite you to join us.
Why Food Insecurity?
One of First Interstate's philanthropic focuses is hunger. For more than 30 years, we have dedicated time and funds to eliminating hunger within our footprint, and we plan to keep showing up in that space until hunger is no longer a persistent challenge in our home states.
In 2009, First Interstate Bank and its Foundation launched the Neighbors Feeding Neighbors program to focus resources on this basic need that our communities need help with: hunger.
From the program's start in 2009 through December 31, 2022, First Interstate has directed $2.3 million to the tables of our neighbors affected by food insecurity. Per Feeding America, the average meal cost in our 14-state footprint is $3.16. With our total giving through the Neighbors Feeding Neighbors program, we provided an estimated 751,610 meals for our communities. From 2015 to 2022, First Interstate employees submitted 9,152.50 Volunteer hours for Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Match.
Food justice also has a place in the civil rights movement. According to Feeding America, the rate of food insecurity for Black households is more than double that of white households. At the same time, 1 in 5 Latinos is food insecure — compared with 1 in 8 Americans overall. And food insecurity is a root of many other challenges, exacerbating health risks such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.
Hunger can also result in higher poverty rates, deepening the gap between those who have easy access to food and those who don't. Hungry children have a more difficult time in school, which can contribute to later challenge in finding and staying in a job that pays a living wage.
With these facts motivating us, we will be working to fight food insecurity this MLK Day and all through January.
Not only does this work make sense to line up with the holiday that celebrates an incredible leader in the civil rights movement, but it is especially relevant this time of year.
Nonprofits are entering a challenging season. After the holidays, nonprofits see a decline in volunteering and donations. The days are still dark, temperatures are cold, and home and community gardens are less likely to bear food. Mental health challenges are exacerbated in January and February. In all these circumstances, individuals and families need just as much, if not more, access to healthy and affordable food options.
How to Get Involved
We encourage you to volunteer or donate this month in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. and improving civil rights for all.
That can look like donating to your local food pantry or food bank, volunteering for Meals on Wheels, supporting your community garden, or partnering with other area nonprofits that work to provide healthy food options to those in need.
Please join us in paying attention to this need and sharing the will to eliminate hunger in every community. Together, we get to make a huge difference!