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Missed “Marketplace” with Kai Ryssdal on air? Catch up here! Listen now
Dec 18, 2019

How Feeding America provides 4 billion meals a year

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CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot talks about how she uses her background in corporate finance to run the country's second largest nonprofit.

More than 37 million people were food insecure last year, according to the Department of Agriculture. Feeding America has been providing food to people in need since the 1970s, and provided 4.3 billion meals in 2018.

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, its chief executive, spoke with “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal about how ongoing economic expansion makes her work more difficult.

“People don’t think America when they think hunger,” she said. “They think distant shores. So we already have that hurdle. If you compound that with a perception that everything is going well, then people don’t think that there’s a need and they’re not out there trying to find ways to be helpful.”

Babineaux-Fontenot became CEO of Feeding America in 2018 after 13 years on Walmart’s leadership team, most recently as the company’s executive vice President and global treasurer.

“I say I have a heart for people and a head for numbers,” she said. “The role that I have right now allows me to access both of them at one time.”

Despite the tremendous scale of hunger in the U.S., Babineaux-Fontenot is optimistic that the nonprofit will complete its mission of creating a hunger-free America.

“We’re already making progress,” she said. “Thirty-seven million represents the first time since the beginning of the recession that we’ve gotten back to this number. There have been moments in time when Feeding America fed 46.5 million people.”

The team

Nancy Farghalli Executive Producer
Bridget Bodnar Producer
Daisy Palacios Producer
Sean McHenry Associate Producer
Maria Hollenhorst Assistant Producer