The Next 25 Years

Meet Yael Lehmann, Former President and CEO of The Food Trust

The Food Trust's 25th anniversary spotlight, picture of Yael Lehmann, Executive Director of The Food Trust

25 years, 25 stories

For former President and CEO, Yael Lehmann, a day that stands out during her 15-year tenure with The Food Trust was Friday, January 17, 2014. That day, with help from the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative, Circle Food Store reopened in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward, eight years after it was destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “It was just an amazing moment to see,” Yael says. “Folks were parading and the school band came out. People were so happy.”

Yael pauses in her recollection: In truth, every ribbon cutting in front of a new grocery store was memorable. So was every visit to a HYPE youth leadership summit, or a bodega that had joined the Healthy Corner Store Network to improve food access in its neighborhood. And then there was the day in 2011 when then-First Lady Michelle Obama visited Philadelphia to celebrate The Food Trust’s “groundbreaking work,” which would become a pillar of the national Let’s Move campaign.

“Every day has been memorable,” Yael says. “And that’s because of our staff. One of the things that inspires me every day is how committed everyone is to our mission.”

In Yael’s time at The Food Trust, the staff has swelled from barely a handful to well over 100.  “Even though we're not a tiny startup anymore, we try to keep the early-day feeling of, ‘Let's try new things,’” Yael says. “It's energizing for me and for the staff that while we're replicating existing models that we know work, we're always trying to think through different ideas.”

What does that mean for the next 25 years of The Food Trust? “The Food Trust will always be highly committed to Philadelphia, but our work will also become increasing national. To stay true to our mission,” Yael emphasizes, “we will continue our work to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food.”

Learn more about Yael Lehmann and get acquainted with the rest of The Food Trust's talented staff

25th anniversary logo color

This interview is part of our weekly "25 Years, 25 Stories" series, spotlighting some of The Food Trust's diverse voices in healthy food access. If you would like to support our work, click here to make a tax-deductible donation today.

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