By Barbara Wood | Special to the Almanac
Atherton resident Kathy Jackson, CEO of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, was recently named Feeding America 2014 Network Leader of the Year for her efforts to significantly increase the amount of food provided by Second Harvest and streamline operations to drive down costs.
According to Second Harvest, the number of people it serves jumped 50 percent after the start of the recession and has continued to edge up ever since. Second Harvest now provides food to more than 250,000 people every month.
Second Harvest partners with 330 nonprofit agencies to provide food at 770 sites, including pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and after-school programs.
"These exceptional results required Kathy to be bold, tireless, collaborative, and client-focused," said Norm Taffe, board chair of the Second Harvest Food Bank.
Under Ms. Jackson's leadership, he said, Second Harvest last year distributed more than a million pounds of food per week, a 16 percent increase, while improving its efficiency by 6 percent and increasing access to CalFresh (food stamp) benefits by 61 percent, all over the previous year.
In addition, she secured the donation of a 75,000-square-foot building from Cypress Semiconductor to serve as a dedicated fresh produce facility and volunteer center.
"She has used her energy to inspire her staff, community and peers," said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America. "Her successes ... show that Kathy is committed to helping her community and serving the food insecure in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties," he said.
Ms. Jackson joined Second Harvest Food Bank in August 2009 after more than 20 years of executive-level experience in the financial services industry.