M&T Bank launches statewide food drive to support military families

This week, M&T Bank launched a statewide, monthlong drive to collect and distribute food to military families who are dealing with food insecurity issues.

M&T’s drive is in collaboration with the Food Warriors Program, an initiative of the Military Support Alliance of New Jersey. M&T Bank will involve 64 of its branch offices in the state and the drive will continue through June 28.

“As soon as we heard about the Food Warriors Program, we wanted to put our effort around it,” Regional Manager Shannon Lazare said. “Giving back to our communities is core to how we operate as a bank.”

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Our story on the Food Warriors program has inspired many. Read it here.

“I hope we can bring more attention to challenges facing military families. It’s heartbreaking that they must worry about putting food on the table while they are off defending our country.”

The Food Warriors Program was started two years ago by Michael Schaffer, a Navy veteran and former chaplain of the New Jersey American Legion. Schaffer took action after discovering that food insecurity was a widespread issue not limited to any one base.

In fact, a study by the Rand Corp. in 2023 said that one-quarter of active-duty military personnel were dealing with food insecurity issues.

“We were so impressed by Chaplain Schaffer when he came to talk with us,” said Lazare. “He is so authentic, so passionate and so obviously committed to the program.”

Lazare said she was made aware of Food Warriors by a colleague who saw a story about the program in ROI-NJ.

“We are asking people to make a monetary donation or to donate nonperishable canned or dry goods,” Lazare explained. “Then, on June 28, we will assemble an entourage of people and trucks and bring all the donated items to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.”

Military families are facing financial challenges for several reasons.

First, pay scales are not keeping up with the high cost of living.

Second, military families incur the additional costs associated with moving which, on average, they do once every two to three years. While the military covers the cost of the actual move, it does not pay for costs associated with the move, such as finding schools and/or child care.

Third, military families quite often need to manage on a single income because the spouse has difficulty securing full-time employment given the transient nature of military life.

“While this challenge is not unique to military families, it is important that the Military Support Alliance of New Jersey can specifically help military families through Food Warriors and the food pantries they have on the Joint Base,” said Lazare.

To make a monetary donation to the M&T Bank Food Warriors Drive, please visit the Military Support Alliance of New Jersey’s site here.