BOSTON – As the COVID-19 pandemic tightened its grip on our lives last year, a simple act of charity helped give the employees and customers at a local bank a sense of purpose.
Beginning last summer, JPMorgan Chase teamed up with the American Heart Association to provide healthy food to people in Greater Boston that need it most.
As part of the campaign, 22 Chase branches collected 740 pounds of nonperishable, healthy food items that the Association then donated to organizations serving under-resourced communities throughout the region.
At the Chase location in Roxbury, branch manager Angelica Civilus said the initiative deepened the connection between the bank and the community it serves.
“Even in the midst of the pandemic, in the midst of so much going on, it gave us a sense of purpose,” said Civilus.
The Roxbury branch collected more food donations than any other location. Many of these items were given to families who live in the community and are facing hunger.
Massachusetts has seen steep increases in food insecurity since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Low-income families and communities of color, such as Roxbury, have been hit particularly hard.
This is alarming because studies show that adults in households that can’t regularly buy nutritious foods are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke, the No. 1 and 5 causes of death in the U.S. Those facing food insecurity are also more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes, both risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Civilus said she was touched to see bank customers stepping up to improve the health of their community. One woman – who traveled to the bank by public transportation – dropped off a bag of food every week for the duration of the three-month food drive.
Bank employees were so impressed by the commitment their customers showed to the campaign that it inspired them to take steps toward improving their own health, said Civilus. They used some of the American Heart Association’s resources to create changes in their diet and exercise routines.
“There are all these amazing activities and all these amazing resources that are available, that if we utilize them, they can make a difference,” said Civilus.
The food drive was conducted in the lead up to the 2020 Boston Heart Walk, which was held virtually the week of October 19. JPMorgan Chase was the Food Access Sponsor of the walk.
Making nutritious food more accessible and affordable is critical to cardiovascular health. But that won’t happen without sweeping efforts to transform the food system. That’s why the American Heart Association is committed to nutrition security – meaning everyone can afford and access the right amounts and the right kinds of healthy food for a longer, healthier life.
It’s a goal JPMorgan Chase can get behind.
“Too many Americans live in homes that don’t always have enough food for everyone in the family,” said Keith Slattery, market leadership team managing director at JPMorgan Chase and chair of the 2020 Boston Heart Walk. “The social and economic impact of COVID-19 has heightened this problem, particularly in under-resourced communities. JPMorgan Chase is investing the American Heart Association to help close these gaps.”
The 2021 Boston Heart Walk will be held October 25-30. For more information, visit bostonheartwalk.org.