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‘Meaningful mission’: Food bank’s new CEO tackles hunger in Nevada

Updated June 1, 2023 - 3:45 pm

Three Square Food Bank has found its next CEO, tapping Beth Martino, a public affairs expert, as its new leader.

Martino has over 20 years of experience in public affairs and most recently served as vice president of public affairs for the American Health Care Association, a trade association that represents nursing homes and assisted living communities. She will officially start as CEO of Southern Nevada’s only food bank on Monday.

This won’t be Martino’s first time leading a food bank as she was the CEO of the Maryland Food Bank, which she estimated was a similar size as Three Square, for two years. Martino also worked in communications related roles in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and for two former Kansas governors, Mark Parkinson and Kathleen Sebelius.

Martino said she wanted to go back to working for a food bank because of the role these organizations play in their communities.

“It’s just a really meaningful mission, serving people in need, whether you’re doing that in Baltimore, or whether you’re doing that here in Las Vegas,” Martino said. “That work of feeding people is incredibly important, because, whether you are a child who’s trying to learn in school, or whether you are an adult who’s trying to seek employment, it’s really hard to focus on that when you’re hungry. … You can’t be the best at anything when you’re hungry.”

The problem of hunger in Southern Nevada is a prevalent issue as Three Square estimates that one in seven people in the area, or about 341,000 people, are food insecure. Martino said that she wants to do “the work of ending hunger” and wants to see Three Square focus on programs that do more than just provide food to those in need. She also wants it to support workforce development programs to help people find jobs.

These issues are important since Southern Nevada has seen the number of people who are food insecure rise to its current level from one in five people during the pandemic. Martino attributes this rise to the end of certain relief programs and persistent inflation taking more cash from people’s wallets.

Food prices are 7.7 percent higher in April than they were in April, 2022, according to the Consumer Price Index.

“As food costs continue to rise, it becomes more difficult for people to address their long term plan for food insecurity,” Martino said. “I think the good news is, we have so many fantastic organizations … that are standing and ready to help our community. So I think continuing to draw on that and make sure that we’re ready to address those needs as they evolve over the course of the next couple of years.”

Three Square covers four counties in Southern Nevada — Clark, Lincoln, Esmeralda and Nye — and works with about 160 partner organizations to distribute food and address hunger-related issues in those counties. In 2022, Three Square estimated it distributed nearly 38 million meals, which is equivalent to more than 45 million pounds of food and groceries.

Martino will be managing a staff of more than 120 employees and will help coordinate a sizable force of 14,000 annual volunteers.

Three Square has been looking for a full-time CEO since August when its former CEO, Brian Burton, announced he had stepped down from the role so he could move to his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas.

“We are happy to welcome Beth Martino to the organization and have confidence that her experience and strategic vision will further Three Square’s mission, building on more than a decade of successful growth within our Southern Nevada community,” said Al Welch, the board chair of Three Square, in a statement.

Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at shemmersmeier@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanhemmers34 on Twitter.

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