November 7, 2017

By Luther Turmelle

NEW HAVEN — Efforts to feed the state’s hungry got a big boost Wednesday as KeyBank announced a three-year, $105,000 grant to the Connecticut Food Bank.

Bank officials announced the grant, as well as the results of a month-long food drive that was conducted at nine KeyBank branches around the state, during a ceremony Wednesday morning at the financial institution’s regional headquarters at 195 Church St. The food drive brought in more than $3,30 in cash donations as well as nearly 1,500 pounds of food, which combined will be enough to provide more than 7,800 meals.

“We need tremendous support and this generous grant helps us keep moving toward a hunger-free Connecticut,” said Bernie Beaudreau, the Food Bank’s chief executive officer. “It’s truly an investment in our communities.”

The Wallingford-based Food Bank distributes food to more than 600 community-based organizations, which serve an average of 148,000 people each month, Beaudreau said.

The grant from KeyBank is one of the largest the organization has received this year, said Paul Shipman, a spokesman for the Food Bank.

“Anytime you get a six-figure donation, you’re extremely grateful,” Shipman said.

Jeff Hubbard, KeyBank’s president of the Connecticut and Western Massachusetts market, said bank officials are hopeful that the grant “will take us one step closer to ending hunger in Connecticut.”

“KeyBank has made it our business to give back to the areas that we live and work in,” Hubbard said.

The bank’s food drive is the brain child of James Trimble, a New Haven resident who works in the mailroom at KeyBank’s regional headquarters. Trimble is a longtime Food Bank volunteer and started his own personal food drive in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

“It was an incredible, cathartic experience for me,” he said, recalling the first food drive. “It made me want to do more.”

Working on his own, Trimble was able to garner enough food donations and funding to provide 16,000 meals since 2013.

This year, Trimble went to Hubbard and asked for his support.

“I said, “James, we’re all in,’” Hubbard said. “We wouldn’t be here today, celebrating all that we’re doing with the Connecticut Food Bank, if it wasn’t for James.”

KeyBank has 66 branch offices in six Connecticut counties, including 21 in New Haven County. It entered the Connecticut market last summer after the Cleveland-based financial institution complete its acquisition of First Niagara Bank.

Karen Crane, a KeyBank spokeswoman, said the company has a strong community service component in addition to its philanthropic efforts.

Las spring, Connecticut employees donated more than 1,100 hours of their time during a single day to take part in community volunteer efforts. The initiative is known as Neighbors Make The Difference Day.