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decarlo-jackieheadshot2020Jackie DeCarlo
CEO
Manna Food Center

Jackie DeCarlo has been CEO of the Manna Food Center, a food bank serving more than 30,000 people a year in Montgomery County, since 2013. She takes pride in how the organization has transformed itself in 2020.

“We are staying safe and still serving,” she said in a September interview. Manna’s vision is to be a community where everyone has access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food in order to lead fulfilling lives and where all people live in dignity, she said.

“This vision is especially important in times of crisis because all of us are important and all of us are needed,” she said. “During the COVID-19 crisis and recession, I’ve focused on leading from a place of compassion and providing security in uncertain times.”

DeCarlo said Manna serves 4,000 families a month, up from 3,000 a month before the pandemic.

The pandemic required Manna to quickly change how it distributes food. At first, food boxes were being distributed only at drive-through sites. Now, its Community Food Rescue program sends volunteer food runners to safely deliver to people who need to remain home.

“We had to put the safety of our participants, staff and volunteers at the forefront and deliver food efficiently to meet increased demand,” she said.

The Weekend Bag program, in partnership with countywide schools, now distributes more than twice as many grab-and-go food bags each week for children and their families than before the pandemic.

She said while Manna pays a living wage, most of her team members are working-class people who live in neighborhoods where the pandemic has hit the hardest.

“Some folks have been on the risky front lines; others have been behind the scenes answering literally thousands of phone calls from people in distress, absorbing that stress,” she said. “Seeking to be a servant leader, my mantra is: ‘We care for those who care for others.’”

Thanks to donors, DeCarlo said, Manna has helped its staff by providing hazard pay, personal protective equipment, safety procedures, mental health support and staggered schedules.

“Whatever strides Manna Food Center is making in the fight against hunger and injustice is possible only because of stellar board members, volunteers, colleagues and teammates,” she said.

“During the COVID-19 crisis and recession, I’ve focused on leading from a place of compassion and providing security in uncertain times.”
—Jackie DeCarlo

This is a winner profile from The Daily Record's Maryland's Most Admired CEOs awards. Some information for this profile was sourced from the honoree's application for the award.