Feeding America® Announces Award Winners for 2020

Food Bank Leaders Honored for Dedication to Fighting Hunger

October 1, 2020

Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, presented the 2020 Hunger’s Hope Awards at its Fall Leadership Virtual Summit today. The Member of the Year and John Van Hengel Fellowship awards are the highest honors awarded to network leaders for their local community-building and contributions to the Feeding America network. 

With a mission to feed America’s hungry, the Feeding America network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs provides assistance to more than 40 million people each year. Each food bank operates independently but collectively distributed the equivalent of 5.17 billion meals to people facing hunger last year. 

Feeding America’s 2020 Award Winners include:

2020 Member of the Year
The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina in Raleigh was recognized as Member of the Year for their commitment to collaboration in building strong relationships with community partners and the national network to best serve neighbors in need.  

“The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina is an incredible organization making tremendous impact for people facing hunger in and outside of Raleigh,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America. “We congratulate CEO Peter Werbicki and the entire food bank staff for their dedication to addressing the needs of the community and working to end hunger. From their focus on engaging with key partners and empowering neighbors with resources to make nutritious choices to supporting member food banks across the network in times of disaster or emergency, the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina demonstrates just how much of a difference a food bank can make in the community.” 

Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina was also cited for its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and educating employees on how to use an EDI lens to inform core strategy and decision-making to best serve neighbors in need. 

2020 John van Hengel Fellow
Suzan Bateson, executive director of the Alameda County Community Food Bank, 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 of a member food bank for excellence in leadership, local impact and national influence, and entrepreneurial spirit in the area of hunger relief.

Bateson has served the Feeding America network for 19 years, holding the top post at the Alameda County Community Food Bank since 2001. During her tenure, the food bank grew its budget from $3.75 million to $18.7 million, tripled its roster of employees and tripled its annual food distribution to 32.5 million pounds. 

In times of disaster or emergency, Bateson is quick to offer support to food banks across the network –from helping fire victims 400 miles away in Los Angeles to engaging corporate partners in helping flood victims 2,000 miles away in South Texas. She has also demonstrated a commitment to EDI, which is now a formal part of the food bank’s strategic plan. 

In addition to a successful and respected career at the food bank, Bateson has served on numerous Feeding America Network committees – including the Feeding America Ending Hunger advisory committee and Feeding America’s Policy Engagement and Advocacy Committee – and the National Council. She is currently chair of Feeding America’s Western Region and formerly served as both board chair and board member of the California Association of Food Banks.

“Suzan has an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of neighbors in her community each day, using her steadfast and sound leadership to help end hunger,” said Babineaux-Fontenot. “She encourages innovation, risk-taking and collaboration from staff to meet the ever-changing needs of the people we serve and is highly regarded by her key constituents as a collaborator and mentor. One of her colleagues said it best: ‘Her heart is totally in it, and that inspires us every day.’ We, too, are inspired by Suzan and thrilled to award her the John van Hengel Fellowship.”


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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.