Project Bread, the state’s largest anti-hunger organization spearheading Massachusetts’ COVID-19 hunger relief efforts, tapped life-long Woburn resident Meg Meaney to join its newly formed Advisory Council.
Meaney, 54, who lives on Dearborn Terrace with her husband Brian, is currently the Vice President of Marketing Operations at Acoustic, LLC. A revenue operations executive, Meaney brings 25 years of experience developing strategy and infrastructure to drive profitable growth in global, publicly traded technology companies.
At Acoustic, a private equity carve-out from IBM, she oversees infrastructure, business processes, and reporting competency. Previously, she served as VP of Marketing & Channel Operations at Carbonite and VP of Sales and Marketing Operations at Nuance Communications.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Boston College.
Meaney said she’s “very excited” about this new venture, noting that one of the goals involves bringing in a “fresh perspective” and leveraging her talent “to increase the reach of the organization.”
Project Bread’s Advisory Council, separate from the nonprofit’s Board of Directors, is a group of professionals who will leverage their personal and professional networks to increase the organizations impact and reach.
As an inaugural Advisory Council member, Meaney will serve as an ambassador and fundraiser for the nonprofit, helping to provide counsel to Project Bread CEO Erin McAleer on key strategic issues and policy matters.
When asked what Meaney brings to the table, McAleer said, “Meg brings with her a wealth of experience from 25 years of focusing on strategy and building infrastructure – exactly the kind of focus we need in our advocacy for expanding participation and awareness of federal nutrition programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). This, along with Meg’s own commitment to changing structures as the best hope for ending hunger in Massachusetts make her an invaluable part of our team.”
The CEO also noted, “Project Bread’s pursuit of bold, systemic solutions to the problem of hunger will benefit greatly from the leadership and passion of our new Advisory Council. Members bring a variety of perspectives and experiences that ensure a fresh perspective on ways to further our mission. I’m so grateful for these new relationships built on the desire to end hunger in Massachusetts. It’s precisely this combination of leadership, passion, and a real desire to solve hunger that we chose Meaney to help us continue to fulfill our mission.”
Meaney, a 1985 graduate of Woburn Memorial High School, has only participated in Project Bread through its Walk for Hunger campaign, the nation’s oldest continual pledge walk that raises money to support the nonprofit’s year-round hunger relief efforts statewide. And although she’s never experienced hunger, at least not the kind people who rely on Project Bread have, she’s always had a plan if that ever occurred.
“As a child, I was very fortunate in that there was never a lack of food, but despite this, I had a plan for how to survive on very little if necessary,” she said. “I thought about how long a loaf of bread and jars of peanut butter and jelly would last. This from a kid with no food insecurity. The anxiety at such a young age, the distraction from school and activities due to hunger and worry and the challenges later in life due to anxiety brought on at a young age all take a toll. The folks at Project Bread understand this deeply, and they are addressing it systemically.”
Hunger effects many people, even in a state like Massachusetts, and especially during a time where a global pandemic caused so many to lose their jobs or their careers. This impacted Project Bread greatly.
“Starting mid-March 2020,” McAleer noted, “Project Bread faced a surge in demand by the tens of thousands of individuals and families suddenly confronted with food insecurity as a symptom of the COVID-19 crisis.
“With schools closed, there were hundreds of thousands of kids without access to meals and our team worked urgently with partners to set up more than 1,600 meal sites statewide and continues to work with partners to keep meal sites open throughout summer as part of the Summer Eats program. Our school meals site map is updated daily.”
While the coronavirus caused more people to need the assistance of an organization like Project Bread, it didn’t stop people from volunteering through its Walk for Hunger event held the first Sunday in May.
McAleer noted her company held the event this past May with 1,500 virtual participants walking throughout their own backyards to help raise $1.2M. This was the second time they held the walk virtually due to COVID-19. Normally, it takes place on the Boston Common.
For Meaney, with her strength in operations – which she said focuses on efficiency and effectiveness – “I will apply that lens (coupled with exposure to marketing) to opportunities at Project Bread.”
And because her role is advisory in nature, she plans to stay on with her current employer, Acoustic, LLC.
Meaney joins 10 additional members of Project Bread’s inaugural Advisory Council, including: Saadia Ali, a political science major at Boston University and aspiring law student, Becky Epstein, Chair of Corporate Charitable Giving Odysseys Unlimited, Gary Evee, Founder and CEO Evee Consulting Group, Meaghan Switzer, Assurance Senior Manager at RSM US LLP, Graham Gardner, Co-founder and CEO Kyruus, Heather Trafton, Chief Operating Officer at MassAdvantage , Hannah Grove, a Fortune 500 C-suite Executive, Clare Reilly, Co-Founder Women SOAR Giving Circle, Aisha James, Primary Care Physician Mass General Hospital, and Sonya Khan, Director of Clinical Services at Lowell Community Health Center.
The Woburn resident said she and McAleer connected prior to the pandemic.
“The plan was to bring the Advisory (Council) together,” Meaney noted, “but when COVID prevented that, its launch was delayed.”
“We were introduced by my former CEO,” the Dearborn Terrace resident stated regarding her first introduction to the Project Bread CEO.
While it’s been a tough road these past 18 months, Project Bread continues to raise money for those in need. McAleer said 28 non-profits recently participated in the Commonwealth program to raise $165,000 toward each one’s own anti-hunger local efforts to be awarded in grants later this year.
“We have been inspired to see an enormously generous response from donors since the pandemic began,” Project Bread’s CEO remarked. “Fundraising is always in service of our mission, and this work is ongoing and continuously changing and growing to meet the needs of the community. This is one of the reasons we knew it was so important to launch the Advisory Council who will take on fundraising and connecting Project Bread to new network to help support our program and advocacy priorities.”
The organization continues to find new ways to fundraise and reach those suffering from food insecurity. McAleer mentioned starting Health Care Partnerships three months ahead of schedule to “meet the scale of the need that was exacerbated by the pandemic.”
She continued, “To reduce hunger and improve patient health, HCP works with patients referred to us due to food insecurity and medically complex health issues over six to nine months. We aim to address social, environmental, and economic factors that influence their ability to purchase, prepare and consume healthy foods by providing access to food through a variety of goods and services ranging from grocery delivery to kitchen supplies and more.”
In Massachusetts, currently 1 in 6 households and 1 in 5 households with children are struggling without enough to eat, according to McAleer. The numbers jump dramatically for black, brown, and immigrant households. She said Project Bread’s work is at the epicenter of the constantly evolving response.
She also noted when COVID hit Massachusetts in March of last year, her organization embraced an “all-hands-on-deck mentality to maximize impact through the company’s role as the essential organization responding to a hunger crisis being exacerbated by the pandemic.”
To support Project Bread’s COVID-19 relief and year-round anti-hunger efforts, people can visit: projectbread.org/donate. Or, text to donate: Text the word Hunger to 243725.
People experiencing food insecurity should call into Project Bread’s toll-free FoodSource Hotline (1-800-645-8333), which provides confidential assistance to connect with food resources, including SNAP benefits, in 180 languages and for the hearing impaired.
For more information, visit: www.projectbread.org/get-help.