Hunger effects every zip code in the U.S., but in Black communities, the rate of food insecurity is disproportionately high. According to Feeding America, 1 in 5 Black individuals faced hunger in 2022 – more than double the rate of white individuals. In response, Black community leaders have had, and continue to play, pivotal roles in helping to drive hunger from communities today and to end hunger for good.
As we enter into February and celebrate Black History Month, we celebrate the generations of Black leaders of the past and present, and acknowledge the critical work being carried out to address food insecurity. Let’s begin right here at Philabundance, highlighting our own CEO Loree Jones Brown.
Loree Jones Brown, Philabundance CEO
Since coming on board to lead Philabundance, Loree Jones Brown has made significant strides in helping to alleviate food insecurity in Southeastern PA and Southern NJ. During her tenure here, she has been instrumental in advocating on Capitol Hill to help change legislation, she’s committed to visiting our Community Partners in the 9-county region that we serve to ensure we are providing the best resources we can to assist our neighbors in need, and she is a steadfast leader in encouraging Philabundance employees and volunteers to reach our best potential each and every day.
Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Feeding America CEO
Philabundance could not achieve our work without the dedication of Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, a vast network of food banks, food pantries, and meal programs, and the largest charity in the United States since 2022, according to Forbes. Under her strategic guidance, the organization has reached new milestones in addressing domestic food insecurity. Her leadership has propelled Feeding America forward, navigating through the challenges of a global pandemic and significantly growing the strength of its network of food banks and partner agencies to better serve communities and people facing hunger nationwide.
Desiree’ Murphy Morrissey, CEO & Founder, Murphy’s Giving Market
Desiree’ Murphy Morrissey, CEO and Founder of Murphy’s Giving Market, and our Philabundance Board Member, has been working tirelessly to feed her community of Upper Darby, PA for over 15 years. Prior to founding her organization, she was a Special Needs Coordinator for the School District of Philadelphia. The mother of four daughters began her mission to fight food insecurity after she and her family lost their home in a fire, became temporarily homeless, and had to rely on an insufficient, inedible supply of emergency food. Seeing rising hunger rates in her community due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Desiree’ began operating the Market in the backyard of her home, and has since relocated her organization to a site on West Chester Pike. Desiree’ and her dedicated team of volunteers have been serving hundreds of families each week since March 2020.
Valerie Nicholson-Watson, Former President & CEO, Harvesters – The Community Food Network
Valerie Nicholson-Watson has devoted her career to Harvesters – The Community Food Network, a regional food bank serving a 26-county area of Northwestern Missouri and Northeastern Kansas, for more than a decade. As President and CEO, Nicholson-Watson guided the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic helping to raise more than $50 million dollars and distribute more than 136 million pounds of food to meet the increased need during this time. Also during her tenure, the organization marked its 40th anniversary, expanded both its Kansas City and Topeka facilities, enhanced its disaster relief response program, and implemented a food pantry program within schools.
Sebrina Tate, Bebashi – Transition to Hope, President & CEO
Sebrina joined Bebashi in 2019 and is the first woman of color to hold the position in 25 years. She has nearly 25 years of experience as a Social Work Administrator and is passionate about promoting the health and well-being of underserved communities in our area. During her tenure at Bebashi, she has been pivotal in the establishment of the organization’s Wellness Clinic and the expansion of its programs and services.
Bebashi welcomes all LGBTQ+ adults who live in poverty and are disproportionately affected by food insecurity.
Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman in Congress. She represented New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. Early on in her Congressional term, Chisholm was first assigned to the House Agriculture Committee, was a founding member of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Organization of Women, and played an instrumental role in the passage of the Special Supplement Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a critical federal nutrition program that improves the food security and health of vulnerable families.
Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer was an American voting and women’s rights activist, community organizer, and a leader in the civil rights movement. In 1969, Fanny Lou Hamer established the Freedom Farm Cooperative with the objective to make land accessible to Black farmers and provide a source of food and employment for marginalized communities in the Mississippi Delta. The Cooperative included The Pig Project, which provided a source of protein to families who could not afford the cost of meat. Families could receive a piglet to raise and breed as a source of income and would then donate offspring to other families in need.
George Washington Carver
Dr. Carver was an agricultural scientist and inventor who developed innovative techniques to improve types of soils depleted by repeated plantings of cotton. His goal was to encourage poor farmers to grow other crops as a source of their own food and to improve their quality of life. He was most successful with harvesting peanuts, earning the nickname, “The Peanut Man,” and developed more than 300 food, industrial, and commercial products from them, including milk, cooking oils, paper, cosmetics, soaps and wood stains.
Frederick McKinley Jones
Frederick McKinley Jones is best known for his role in founding Thermo King. In July of 1940, Jones patented a refrigeration system for trucks that would allow them to transport perishable foods for longer distances, which is a critical element to our operation here at Philabundance. Upon inception of his invention, fruits and vegetables were able to be shipped to troops stationed overseas in World War II. Crops that were seasonal in the South could make it to the North without spoiling. It also meant that army hospitals and battlefields could receive shipments of transfusion blood and medicines that wouldn’t have been possible years before.
Ready to make a difference? Join the movement to end hunger by using your voice to advocate for immediate relief programs. Let’s unite in our mission to eradicate hunger for good. Take action today and be the change!