Feeding America Names Hunger’s Hope Winners for 2017

Food Banks and Their Leaders Honored

April 28, 2017

Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, presented the 2017 Hunger’s Hope Awards at their annual conference last night in San Diego.

Feeding America distributes food and groceries to more than 46 million low-income people each year through a network of 200 food banks that serve 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across the country.

The 2017 Hunger’s Hope Award Winners are:

2017 Member of the Year
Food Bank of the Southern Tier (Elmira, New York) was recognized for having strong and engaged teams in all areas of their organization.
“President and CEO Natasha Thompson has assembled a terrific staff that we consider best-in-class,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America. “Their programs as well as their efforts to increase the amount of food and groceries they provide to their community are exemplary.”
The food bank was also cited for its innovative practice of engaging major donors in their strategic planning processes, their extensive work in studying the issue of agency capacity, and the effectiveness of their mobile pantry program.

2017 Network Leader of the Year
Susannah Morgan, CEO of the Oregon Food Bank (Portland), was recognized for her efforts to develop the full potential of her staff.
“Susannah has accomplished much by placing people at the center of her work. She has built a strong team that will continue to make an impact. She was also a major voice in the Feeding America Contract Task Force team. Susannah worked to ensure that the voices of food banks all across the country were heard, and that the member contract was in line with the core values of the Feeding America network,” said Aviv.

2017 John van Hengel Fellow
Melody Wattenbarger, President and CEO of the Roadrunner Food Bank (Albuquerque) is this year’s recipient of the John van Hengel Fellowship. The award honors the ideals of the late John van Hengel, who developed the concept of food banking in the 1960s. It recognizes an executive director of a member food bank for his or her excellence in leadership, local impact and national influence, and commitment and entrepreneurial spirit in the area of hunger relief.
Melody has served Roadrunner for the past 22 years and led the organization through significant improvements and changes during her tenure including a move to a facility five times larger than its previous home. She was also the founding executive director of the High Plains Food Bank in Amarillo, TX established in 1983 and worked there until 1991.Wattenbarger spent a period of time working for the national food bank network (Feeding America) and for three years worked for United Way of Central New Mexico prior to leading Roadrunner Food Bank.
“Melody’s unique ability to seek change, improvement and innovation positions Roadrunner as one of the leaders in food banking among the network,” said Aviv. “Melody has been involved with Feeding America for most of her food bank career. She has served on multiple Feeding America committees and is an active and supportive member, as shown through her participation in CEO networking events. Her influence can be seen in many aspects of the national network and the evolution food banks have experienced over the past 40 years.


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About Feeding America

Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, we provide meals to more than 40 million people each year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.