Margarette Purvis to Head NYC Food Bank

By Aisling Maki

Margarette Purvis, daughter of longtime Fox 13 Memphis anchor Mearl Purvis, has been named president and CEO of Food Bank For New York City, the Big Apple’s major hunger-relief organization.


Purvis will step into her new role Oct. 1, replacing Lucy Cabrera, who announced her retirement in January after more than two decades leading the organization.

“I’m very happy for the families in New York City,” Mearl Purvis said. “Margarette understands food and food insecurity. Her southern great grandparents were farmers and she has heard their stories of sacrifice and scarcity. She knows food from the seedling, to the preserving of it, to the sharing with those who have none.”

Purvis was hired following a six-month search that attracted nearly 200 candidates from academic institutions, foundations, hunger organizations, global health and poverty organizations, government and general nonprofits, and economic development and professional services firms.

The new role is a homecoming of sorts for Purvis, who from 2001 to 2006 served as the Food Bank’s vice president of programs and services, the department responsible for providing services to the organization’s network of approximately 1,000 community hunger agencies.

During her tenure at the Food Bank, she developed new programs, including 866-NYC-FOOD and the Education Institute, for which she was honored by Feeding America’s Hunger’s Hope National Innovation Awards.

Purvis, who studied Urban Studies and Public Policy at Dillard University in New Orleans, and Policy Analysis and Nonprofit Management at the Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy at The New School for Social Research, said in a statement she was “honored and thrilled to rejoin the Food Bank, an organization I know and care deeply about.”

“In today’s fragile economic environment, the Food Bank has consistently and successfully tackled food poverty on multiple fronts. I look forward to working closely with the board of directors, donors, staff, and our extensive membership network to address the very real and growing demand for hunger-related services.”

Purvis most recently was principal and CEO of Purvis Consulting Group, an Atlanta-based firm she founded in 2007. Other previous roles include developer and director of Bailey House’s INVEST, the country’s first employment training program for people living with HIV/AIDS, and program developer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s WIC program in Washington.

For nearly three decades, Food Bank For New York City has been the city’s major hunger-relief organization, working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs through food distribution, income support and nutrition education.

The organization feeds about 400,000 people daily, leads a hands-on nutrition education program in the public schools, and provides income support services for the working poor.

“I’m very proud of her commitment to making the world greener for families who deserve to be worry free about the next meal,” Mearl Purvis said. “I’m glad I never complained a day about the cost of her education. I just wish she were doing what she does … near her mama.”