When President Joe Biden announced the Senate had passed his $1.9 trillion stimulus bill on March 6, he summarized the havoc the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked in the U.S.: “As of last night, 519,064 lives lost to the virus. … More than 400 [thousand] small businesses closed unnecessarily. Millions of people out of work through no fault of their own. … Food bank lines stretching for miles. Did any of you ever think you’d see that in America—in cities all across this country?”
Feeding America, for one, has been well aware of the hunger crisis from the beginning. While food insecurity is by no means a new problem, COVID-19 has significantly exacerbated the issue. In 2019, prior to the onset of the pandemic, 35.2 million people, including 10.7 million children, experienced food insecurity in the U.S.
As a result of the pandemic, Feeding America now projects that 42 million people could experience food insecurity this year, including 13 million children. Families of color have been even more disproportionately impacted, with 24% of black children and 19% of Latino children living in food insecure households, compared with 11% of white children.
Feeding America Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Catherine Davis has been a friend of Ad Age’s since she was named a Woman to Watch in 2018. Her experience in the philanthropic space made her a natural choice the following year to be named to the inaugural class of The List, the group of advertising and marketing industry leaders assembled by Ad Age in partnership with Facebook and charged with taking on a specific challenge facing the industry and constructing concrete actions to effect positive change.
Davis’ class focused on equitable parental leave and family policies, while the combined classes of 2020 and 2021 are taking on unconscious bias by launching a pilot mentorship program to help midcareer professionals of color and other underrepresented groups in the hopes of helping to solve the industry's diverse talent crisis. The mass socioeconomic and cultural disruption caused by the pandemic, the social justice movement in response to systemic racism and police killings of Black people, and the polarized political climate not only called attention to the root causes of the problems The List classes have taken on but also amplified the righteousness of their missions.