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Trio of banks unite to benefit local food pantries

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Union Savings Bank, Savings Bank of Danbury, and Newtown Savings Bank have formed a fundraising alliance, “Feeding Our Neighbors Community Challenge,” through which the banks have donated a total of $45,000 to benefit the Danbury Food Collaborative.

Merkle

The challenge idea came from the back-and-forth between Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and “HBO Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver, which culminated in Oliver’s pledge to donate $55,000 to local charities if the city’s sewage treatment plant carried his name.

“We saw an opportunity to build on Mr. Oliver’s donation to have a bigger impact in helping those in need,” said Union Savings President and CEO Cynthia C. Merkle. “With the financial services industry being a critical part of the foundation of our community, asking the banks to step-up first seemed achievable. Two phone calls later, we had $45,000 to seed this effort.”

Savings Bank of Danbury President and CEO Martin G. Morgado, and Newtown Savings Bank President and CEO Kenneth L. Weinstein, quickly signed on after Merkle called them, she said.

“The decision was an easy one,” Morgado said. “The City of Danbury has a long history of helping the less fortunate, and the banking community prides itself on giving back where it is needed the most and will have the greatest impact.”

“Covid-19 has permeated every aspect of our community and threatened access to some of our most basic needs,” Weinstein added. “This effort will put food on tables that would have been bare going into the cold weather season and the holidays.”

The Danbury Food Collaborative consists of more than 24 agencies in the Danbury area, including 14 food pantries and congregate meal programs, which are convened and supported by United Way of Western Connecticut.

Some of those pantries are now serving three times as many households as they were before the pandemic, according to a press release. In July alone, the nonprofit organizations had 7,000 visits to their pantries; according to 211 Counts Connecticut data, requests for information about food resources in Fairfield County went from 1,607 in May of 2019 to 23,900 in May of 2020.

Administration and distribution of the funds are being handled by the United Way of Western Connecticut. Individuals and businesses can donate to the “Feeding Our Neighbors Community Challenge” through the campaign portal at www.FeedingOurNeighborsChallenge.org, which is hosted by the United Way of Western Connecticut.

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