“One Finger Alone Can’t Eat Okra,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, a nationwide network of member food banks, including the Southeast Texas Food Bank, during a visit in Beaumont on Monday, June 29. Her reference to the Haitian proverb about okra is an example of what a small group of people can accomplish, but only if they work together. Ms. Babineaux-Fontenot emphasized the vast work the Southeast Texas Food Bank and other food banks around the country are doing as a network, while reminding staff that such critical work cannot be done alone.
We were honored by Ms. Babineaux-Fontenot’s visit. Its timing in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis was an encouragement to do our part to help foster local, regional, and national response to the crisis. Between March and May, the Feeding America network of food banks has collectively provided 1.3 billion meals to those seeking aid.
Ms. Babineaux-Fontenot has toured about half of the 200 food banks in the network, well on her way to fulfilling a goal of visiting every network food bank that she had set for herself when she became CEO in 2018. She is using these visits as a way to learn more about particular food bank practices and challenges and to encourage the network to be innovative in its response, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, she focused on the key role mobile pantries can play and the impact of direct distributions that meet clients in their own communities.
We thank her for her leadership and her encouragement at this time!