- Facebook / San Antonio Food Bank
- Eric Cooper, president and CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank, oversees one of his organization's food distributions.
Eric Cooper, president and CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank, last week received the 2021 John van Hengel Fellowship award in recognition of his work to combat food insecurity in South Texas.
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, national influence and entrepreneurial spirit in the area of hunger relief.
“At his very core, Eric exemplifies what it means to be a servant leader — to his staff, his community and our network," Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot said in a release. "Eric utilizes his deep empathy for his neighbors who struggle with hunger to help amplify their stories, and in the process, unites and inspires people across the nation to rally in support.”
Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, works with a network of more than 200 food banks, including San Antonio’s.
During his leadership of the San Antonio Food Bank, Cooper developed community alliances such as his engagement of healthcare partners in its e-Referral process, which tackles social determinants of health and food insecurity.
Cooper also grew his organization's footprint from a handful of employees providing 8.3 million meals at the beginning of his tenure to a staff of 260 that provides 67 million meals to San Antonio and surrounding communities.
What's more, his involvement with local and national media outlets helped raise awareness of the food crisis that came about due to the pandemic and the economic downturn that followed, Feeding America officials said.
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