Tammy McConnaughey talks Operation Feed: A personal mission for change
Reflecting on her more than 30-year tenure at Bread Financial, Tammy McConnaughey is no stranger to the company’s Operation Feed campaign. The annual event, which encourages associates to donate time and money to end hunger in their communities, has steadily grown each year, with more than $450,000 donated and thousands of volunteer hours logged in just the past five years.
“When I joined Bread Financial, Operation Feed was just a food drive,” McConnaughey said. “But as the need for fresh food grew, so did the need for monetary support. It has grown tremendously, and every year I’m in awe of the willingness of our associates to lean in and contribute in whatever ways they can.”
Similar to the Operation Feed campaign, Tammy’s presence at Bread Financial has also grown and evolved over the years. Starting in Customer Care as a college student, she now serves as the company’s Executive Vice President of Credit Risk and Operations and is one of the executive champions of this year’s Operation Feed.
The campaign and its mission hold personal meaning for Tammy, who experienced food insecurity as a child and watched her mother use pantries as a means to provide food for her family.
Tammy says her “humble beginning” motivates her, and in 2019, she took her commitment to end hunger one step further by joining the board of trustees at the Mid-Ohio Food Collective (MOFC) in Columbus.
“I’ve heard personal stories from many people who have shared how much they depend on MOFC’s resources,” Tammy said. “That, combined with my own experience growing up, is what motivates me to support this cause. When a board seat became available, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue so I could help with some of the obstacles MOFC indicated it was facing.
“We all need to remember that someone sitting right next to us, or who we pass on the street, you may not see that person as an individual who needs food or has food insecurities, but they do. In fact, right now one in five Ohioans are food insecure.”
We all need to remember that someone sitting right next to us, or who we pass on the street, you may not see that person as an individual who needs food or has food insecurities, but they do. In fact, right now one in five Ohioans are food insecure.”
Tammy McConnaughey - Executive Vice President of Credit Risk and Operations
Learn more about Operation Feed in the Q&A with Tammy below.
Throughout Operation Feed, associates are encouraged to share their “why.” What is yours?
I come from humble beginnings, and my mom found different ways to get food and to make that food last for our family. There was a time when my family was in need and we used the resources that Operation Feed helps provide, so this is personal to me. I give back to ensure other families have opportunities to make ends meet.
Even though we didn’t have much growing up, my mom always gave back. I remember asking her why, and she told me that even a small amount goes a long way and there were others more in need than we were. I've never lost sight of that.
How will you celebrate Operation Feed this year?
In the past three years, first from the pandemic and now inflation, MOFC has seen the most traffic in its history. The employees at MOFC are selfless. They find ways to leverage every dollar donated and are so resourceful and effective. Every year I try to find a way to thank them for what they do in addition to supporting the campaign.
How do you connect the dots from your experience in operations to help the Mid-Ohio Food Collective?
When I attend board meetings, I focus on listening to the challenges facing MOFC and finding ways to help them be more efficient and effective. For example, when I learned MOFC was placing manual calls to thank its donors, I knew we could help. Bread Financial has a robust phone system and thousands of Care Center associates who love to be involved and give back, so over the past two years, we have been able to help MOFC complete their lists in a fraction of the time.
If someone wants to help fight hunger in their community, what would you tell them?
Food banks, community centers, churches and so on have more customers coming in their doors in need of food, and there is a desperate need for volunteers. Even if it is only for an hour, I encourage anyone to donate time. It can be eye-opening and have a big impact. There is a perception that the people who use these resources do not have jobs, and that is not the case. People come in the doors – not because they’re unemployed – but because the cost of food is so high right now.
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