Out of Office: Cindy Theien

Cindy Theien
When Nutrition on Weekends (NOW) started at Superior Middle School, Cindy Theien says, the nonprofit used to give students backpacks like this filled with food to bring home. Photo: Derek Montgomery

The vice president and retail banking director of $948 million-asset National Bank of Commerce in Superior, Wis., dedicates her weekends to feeding schoolchildren in need.

We want to fill that gap for hunger on the weekends. Teachers tell us that there is a marked difference in their students’ participation in school when they’ve had enough to eat. That led us to start Nutrition on Weekends (NOW). Today, backpack programs feed over 1,100 children in 16 school districts in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

We were surprised at how NOW grew. It got to the point where we were bringing food into National Bank of Commerce and using one of our conference rooms. We would have groups like Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and church groups help us pack the backpacks each week. We celebrated our 10-year anniversary in February.

“I think NOW is a major example of how the bank wants to support our community.”
—Cindy Theien, National Bank of Commerce

This program can only work with the support of our community. When we began collecting food at the branches, I’d see families come in and the children were saying, “I’m bringing these for my friends at school, because they don’t have enough food.” One of the children just asked for money for his birthday and gave the money to the program because he didn’t want children to be hungry. There are so many heartfelt stories.

National Bank of Commerce is very determined to be of community service. I think NOW is a major example of how the bank wants to support our community.

Colleen Cowie is an editorial assistant with Independent Banker.