Photo: Denise McCauley (second from left) stands with members of the WoodmenLife team who volunteer at Food Bank for the Heartland.
Denise McCauley, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Secretary at WoodmenLife, has been an integral component within Food Bank for the Heartland’s board for the past six years. She says the mission and values of the Food Bank originally connected her to the organization.
“I feel strongly that individuals need to be set up in the best possible way for success—that includes children. When you think about the impact of not knowing when you’re going to eat, and the distraction that can cause on the ability to focus in school, it’s clear that something needs to change. It’s a societal issue, and we all need to make sure every citizen is set up for success.”
Her employer shares that same sentiment. WoodmenLife sponsors various events and supports hunger relief efforts throughout the U.S. To help achieve this, the company created “We Care” teams at the corporate office that coordinate community service projects in the Greater Omaha area, including efforts with Food Bank for the Heartland. In addition, WoodmenLife chapters across the country conduct similar projects in their communities. Denise has seen the direct impact this support has made on employees.
“Whether the team is volunteering, donating or hosting a food drive, it really fosters camaraderie and brings a sense of purpose to the organization.” She mentioned that one employee was even inspired to start her own food pantry after witnessing the need in our community.
Denise attributes her role on the Food Bank board to opening her eyes to the issue of hunger. “Prior to being involved with the Food Bank, I didn’t know how many people in our communities are forced to make these tough decisions every day,” said Denise. “It’s not one subset of people, or a particular area—it’s universal. I was shocked to learn how many people are struggling.”
While the need for food and the related challenges remains great, Denise is proud of the Food Bank’s accomplishments and excited for their future. “It’s encouraging to see more people learning about the Food Bank and getting engaged in the issue of food insecurity to help make a difference.”
Although she’s not sure she’ll see hunger in the Heartland eradicated in her lifetime, she is hopeful the Food Bank can widen the gap over time and continue to make substantial progress for neighbors in need. In the meantime, Denise and the entire WoodmenLife team are committed to taking a stand in the fight against hunger.