As Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Feeding America, Catherine Davis works to increase public awareness of hunger in America. She is responsible for identifying innovative ways to engage the public in the nonprofit’s mission.
Catherine is responsible for enhancing her organization’s reputation as one of the most-admired nonprofit brands in the country. Prior to joining Feeding America, Catherine oversaw the US McDonald’s and Esurance businesses at Leo Burnett. An established leader in her field, Catherine also previously held senior-level marketing positions at Morgan Stanley and Discover Card and was a media agency president. Forbes’ Afdhel Aziz interviewed her about her role and how brands can partner with nonprofits to increase their effectiveness.
Afdhel Aziz: Cathy, welcome. How would you articulate the purpose and mission of Feeding America?
Catherine Davis: In America, 40 million people face hunger—and Feeding America believes that’s 40 million too many. It is hard to reconcile that there are kids in our country who go to bed hungry, while at the same time, good food gets thrown away. Feeding America’s purpose is ‘to alleviate hunger today and end hunger tomorrow.’ To do this, we rescue good food that is going to waste—like fresh produce—and work with our nationwide network of food banks to provide meals to the people who need them. Working with partners, we also work to identify the best methods for helping families overcome hunger and get back on their feet.
Aziz: That’s awesome. How has activating that purpose changed since inception? What are some of the new realities the organization has to contend with?
Davis: We are focused on three key areas. Technology is changing how we live and work. Consumers are demanding more healthy, ready-to-eat food. Employees want their companies to invest in their communities. In response to these challenges and opportunities, Feeding America has adapted our approach so we can serve more families who need help. As food companies become more efficient, move their business online and offer more fresh and prepared food, we’re using data and technology to access more food donations with greater speed at a lower cost. As companies become increasingly purpose-driven, we’re working closely with them to help them achieve their objectives as we fulfill our mission.
For example, our partnership with Starbucks enables the company’s employees to play a key role in carrying out Starbucks’ commitment to ending hunger. Starbucks employees help ensure that 100% of food available to donate from Starbucks stores reaches people facing hunger through the Starbucks FoodShare program.