Feeding America is the nation’s second-largest charity. Founded in 1979 by John Arnold van Hengel, who died in 2005, it manages around $4 billion in contributions and got 6.6 billion meals to people in need while establishing a separate fund to help drive funds to communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity. After spending 13 years working as an executive for Walmart, Babineaux-Fontenot rose to the position of executive vice president of finance and treasurer. After beating cancer in 2015, she left Walmart to seek different opportunities to help other victims of the disease. In 2018, she was named CEO of Feeding America’s board of directors and was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine during the pandemic.
Why They Made the Worthy 100: In her role as CEO, Babineaux-Fontenot has the complex and often chaotic responsibility of supplying more than 200 food banks and 16,000 food pantries with the supplies they need to address a hunger problem that’s still growing across the United States. Largely unseen from Fortune 500 boardrooms, over the last four years, more than 22 million U.S. citizens wound up in the unemployment lines, a trend that has assistance organizations like Feeding America struggling to keep up. During an interview with theGrio, Babineaux-Fontenot said, “if you miss a paycheck and [have] less than $400 in cash at your disposal; then you go from being on that precipice—or on the brink—to falling over it. There’s a direct connection between unemployment and food insecurity.” That’s noteworthy because, according to the Federal Reserve Bank, the average U.S. household can’t withstand that $400 emergency. This constantly growing crisis is the mission that Feeding America, and Babineaux-Fontenot as its leader, are working so hard to fight.