Can the current pandemic strengthen our resolve to eradicate hunger? Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot talks to Billy Shore about what she is witnessing on the frontlines of the escalating hunger crisis caused by COVID-19 and the opportunities it presents. “There are lots of opportunities in this pandemic to come out of it better than we were going into it,” she says, referring to the increased public awareness of hunger in America. “Do you really want four-mile-long lines [outside food banks] or would you prefer, as I do, to provide people with the dignity where they can go into a grocery store just like the rest of us?” she asks.
Babineaux-Fontenot and Shore discuss how their organizations partner and collaborate, particularly during this pandemic. “Our short-term analysis was that over the first six months, the gap for the charitable food system for our network was $1.4 billion. … We’re making progress in closing that gap, but it’s not completely closed. We’re going to work with you guys to make sure it doesn’t linger for 10 years,” says Babineaux-Fontenot. She also encourages all of us to be informed voters. “I think we have a responsibility to be well informed about what the people who represent us that we elect, where they stand on issues like hunger,” she concludes.
Join us for this insightful discussion about how the COVID-19 pandemic has us rethinking the way we fight hunger in America.
Resources and Mentions:
- No Kid Hungry (nokidhungry.org): Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.
- Claire Babineaux-Fontenot is CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization and second-largest U.S. charity according to Forbes. Prior to joining Feeding America, Babineaux-Fontenot spent 13 years as a part of Walmart’s leadership team most recently as executive vice president and global treasurer. Before Walmart, she was partner-in-charge of the Baton Rouge office and tax practice leader for Adams and Reese LLP, one of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Law Firms.” Earlier in her career, she was dispute resolution practice group leader for the southwest region at PwC (formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers) and an assistant secretary for the Office of Legal Affairs for the State of Louisiana. Babineaux-Fontenot has volunteered in the fight against hunger and other causes since her youth. She served on a number of nonprofit boards including the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, the board of directors and audit committee for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and the board of trustees and finance and audit committee for the National Urban League and the National Association of Black Accountants.
- Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, working to connect people with food and end hunger. Its mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. For more than 40 years, Feeding America has responded to the hunger crisis in America by providing food to people in need through a nationwide network of food banks. The concept of food banking was developed by John van Hengel in Phoenix, AZ in the late 1960s. As the number of food banks began to increase, van Hengel created a national organization for food banks and in 1979 he established Second Harvest, which was later called America’s Second Harvest the Nation’s Food Bank Network. In 2008, the network changed its name to Feeding America to better reflect the mission of the organization. As food insecurity rates hold steady at the highest levels ever, the Feeding America network of food banks has risen to meet the need. They feed 46 million people at risk of hunger, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors.