How One Bank Makes a Difference in Food & Beverage
City National Bank's charitable closing tradition started before inflation hit historic highs, but today it's making a bigger impact than ever.
Written by Entrepreneur. Paid for by City National Bank
The clink of champagne glasses. The ceremonial exchange of lucite trophies or deal toys. These are the traditional markers of a deal done in the commercial banking world—but one particular bank does things very differently. When the Food & Beverage Team at City National Bank closes a deal with one of their clients, instead of a blowout party or gifts, they celebrate by giving back through City National's Food Pantry Program.
According to the USDA, at-home food prices are expected to rise between 10-11% in 2022. On top of the already historic rises in price seen since the start of the pandemic, that puts the food category at its highest annual increase since 1981. With 38 million Americans, including 12 million children, experiencing food insecurity, the need for relief is severe.
In the six years since City National started its Food & Beverage Team, its size has more than doubled, serving clients like Heartland Consumer Products, King's Hawaiian, Foley Family Wines and more. Assistant Vice President Jennifer Hernandez has been with the team since its early beginnings and helped establish its unique charitable celebration style. "City National is all about giving back to the community," Hernandez said, "and with this program we can partner with the client to give back even more."
City National purchases a truckload of food and secures a food bank in the community local to its Food & Beverage clients. This makes the charitable giving even more personal for clients and the Food & Beverage Team. "We can partner with [clients] on the giving and coordinate with local food banks to determine where the need is and figure out how we can help the most with this program. It allows us to do so much more," said Hernandez.
On the day of the distribution event, the Food & Beverage deal team and the senior leaders from their client meet the truck at a predetermined location to help pass out food together. Working with local food banks helps ensure that the populations in need are supported. "Getting out there and spending time with clients is a great way of deepening the relationship. Usually when you're working the deal, it's emails, conference calls, phone calls, so getting together is really nice—and the clients love it, too," said Hernandez.
Despite the pandemic intensifying food insecurity and changing how food pantry events are held, the City National program saw its strongest giving in the fourth quarter of 2021. Over the course of the year, the program provided meals for more than 30,000 families by delivering over 700,000 pounds of food at 20 events.
In addition to the connection to the community, one of the most rewarding aspects of the endeavor for the City National Bank team is seeing how clients across the country are inspired to keep giving back. "After an event with us, many clients start their own events because they enjoy it so much," Hernandez said. "Clients begin to get heavily involved with their local food bank which is very gratifying for the City National team to witness."
As gratifying as it is to give back to the communities you do business with, it's just as inspiring to spur others to do the same. And that's exactly what City National's Food Pantry Program is doing across the country.
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