Giving Compass' Take:
- Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, discusses the timeline for the nonprofit's work on ending chronic hunger in the U.S. its impact on communities of color.
- What are the equity issues within food insecurity in the U.S.? How has COVID-19 exacerbated chronic hunger?
- Learn more about addressing food insecurity brought on by the pandemic.
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Claire Babineaux-Fontenot believes it is possible to end chronic hunger and food insecurity in America. Babineaux-Fontenot is the CEO of Feeding America, one of the largest charities in the U.S. and the largest devoted to hunger relief. It is one of the great stains on the richest country on earth that as many as 35 million of our neighbors, classmates and fellow citizens are chronically hungry.
And like so many social ills, the pandemic has made things worse. Feeding America’s latest data projects that the number of people that face food insecurity has swollen to 42 million. Over the past year, Feeding America’s nationwide network of 200 food banks provided more than 6 billion meals. “It has taken me a while to have gotten to the point where I can say it and keep talking because it takes my breath away to think about that many people struggling,” says Babineaux-Fontenot.
Feeding America’s work was recognized this year with a series of grants from MacKenzie Scott, who has pledged to give away most of her fortune from her Amazon stake. Scott gave what Babineaux-Fontenot—a lawyer and tax and finance expert who was part of Walmart’s senior leadership team, before a cancer diagnosis prompted her to shift gears and move to Feeding America in 2018—calls “transformational gifts” to 42 of Feeding America’s food banks around the country. Scott then surprised the CEO with a $20 million donation for the national office. Feeding America will invest those funds in communities of color, which are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity and the pandemic.
Babineaux-Fontenot, who grew up in rural Louisiana, has an unusual personal history. Her grandparents on both sides were sharecroppers, and Babineaux-Fontenot has 107 brothers and sisters (through a combination of birth, foster care and adoption). She recently joined TIME for a video conversation on her timetable for eliminating chronic hunger, how her experience at Walmart has benefited her current position and the problem of ugly carrots.
Read the full article about chronic hunger in America by Eben Shapiro at TIME.