MEET ANNMARIE ZIMMERMANN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LOAVES & FISHES FAMILY KITCHEN – PROVIDING NO COST, HOT NUTRITIOUS MEALS AND SUPPORT SERVICES TO ALL NEEDY INDIVIDUALS
SVT: What is Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen and what do they do?
AMZ: For 34 years, Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen, a non-profit organization, has been serving the areas working poor, families, single women, couples, homeless and seniors. What began as a simple first meal of fish and bread for 11 adults and 15 children served on February 15, 1980, has grown to over 500 meals served daily at four locations. These no-cost, hot meals are offered to Loaves & Fishes’ guests in a safe, caring and friendly environment.
SVT: You are new to Loaves & Fishes, what is your past experience?
AMZ: Yes, I’m not only new to Loaves & Fishes, but I am new to running a nonprofit business. I’ve spent most of my career in the private, high-tech sector in various roles from individual contributor to executive and in various functions from engineering to business development. I even ran a $200M business while living in Edinburgh, Scotland.
SVT: What brought you to nonprofit and why Loaves & Fishes?
AMZ: I’m very fortunate that my life and career to this point has been a wonderful adventure. I’ve traveled to all parts of the world and have seen and experienced so many wonderful things. Yet during that time I also was exposed to places where the need for just the basics – food, shelter, clothing, healthcare – was so great. This left a lasting impression, and I knew at some point in my life I would have to follow my heart, because people struggling has always tugged at me. This is my nature. I’m a problem solver, and I couldn’t stop trying to think of ways to help. I did some volunteering and sat on some nonprofit boards but it wasn’t enough. I knew I wanted to be more actively involved in helping people. When the Loaves & Fishes Executive Director position came up I jumped at it because it was a way for me to help in an area I’m passionate about. I have always been a lover of good quality, nutritious food. Coming from a large family, I was number 8 out of 9 children, food was a big thing at my home and not always in abundance. I understand how that impacts all facets of life. For low-income families, it’s difficult for children to learn in school, for parents to search for work, or hold multiple jobs if they worry all the time where that next meal is coming from. A hot, nutritious meal becomes the dominant thought and a constant stress factor. For seniors, our hot, nutritionally balanced meals allow them to stay healthy, put their money toward other necessities, and give them a safe place to feel connected to a community. For the homeless, we help sustain and comfort them. That warm meal gives them a brief respite during their most difficult times of need. This is what drives me to help grow Loaves & Fishes.
SVT: How does a nonprofit compare to a for-profit business?
AMZ: There are many similarities and many differences. The similarities are the basics of general management, finance, employee development, funding development, strategic planning, partnerships, etc. For example, one of our partnerships is with Goodwill Industries of Silicon Valley. When we had to terminate our relationship with another nonprofit for professional reasons, Goodwill CEO Mike Fox, immediately saw how our nonprofits could complement each other. He offered us an opportunity to provide meals to those in need at his San Jose location. Goodwill would also talk to them about services and job training to help get them back on their feet. We all know how a warm meal makes us more receptive. The synergy was terrific, making it a win-win for both nonprofits. The differences are more subtle and go beyond our designation as a 501(c) (3) and winning grants to further our mission. I know from the high-tech world how critically important it is to learn and navigate the various pathways in order to be successful. I’m still learning, so ask me again in a few months!
SVT: What is a typical meal service like?
AMZ: I was truly moved at my first Loaves & Fishes meal service. It is a kind and caring environment where the guests are welcomed as if you were welcoming people into your own home. There is politeness, warmth and so much heartfelt gratitude. We have long time regular volunteers that our guests know by name and miss when they are absent. We have team leaders and other volunteers that were once previous guests of Loaves & Fishes as children and now want to give back as adults. We have thousands of corporate and student volunteers that make sure the guests understand they are appreciated.
SVT: What else does Loaves & Fishes provide besides meals?
AMZ: Our mission statement not only states that we provide no cost, hot nutritious meals but also services. We do a back to school backpack program for children and a Christmas toy shop every year. We are also currently planning collaborations with our nonprofit partners to provide new services such as culinary training and computer training. We have special events and music at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Cinco de Mayo.
SVT: Who are your most important partners?
AMZ: Solving complex social problems, requires collaboration and strategic partnerships with various groups. There is more power and strength to making a difference when we pool our collective resources. Some of our most important partners are Goodwill of Silicon Valley, Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties and the Downtown Streets Team, which serves Palo Alto, San Jose, San Rafael and Sunnyvale.
SVT: What’s next for Loaves & Fishes?
AMZ: We continue our core mission to provide no cost, hot nutritious meals and support services. And we build on that strong foundation accomplished by the Loaves & Fishes staff and Board of Directors. We further those efforts through our three year strategic plan. We will take advantage of social innovation and social enterprise to achieve the goal of serving more people and providing them with more services as operationally efficient as possible. We live in a unique region, where the disparity between the rich and the poor remains great. At the same time I think that gives us a lot of opportunity to partner with socially conscious businesses that align with our mission. By reaching out to these companies we will be able to better this situation together.
SVT: What can people do to help?
AMZ: Continue to donate, volunteer their time and innovate for social good. And, step back and look at the world through the lens of those in need. It is an eye opening experience. Visit us at www.loavesfishes.org
About AnnMarie Zimmermann
AnnMarie is currently the Executive Director of Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen. She has broad executive experience in the for-profit high-tech sector largely in the areas of Engineering, P&L Management, Strategy and Business Development. She has worked in companies ranging from startup to Fortune 500 and her specialties are growing enterprises and operational excellence.
In 2006, AnnMarie joined Agilent Technologies where she was the Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for a $2B business and Vice President and General Manager of the $200M Assurance Solutions Division, based in Edinburgh, Scotland. She quickly brought the business to profitability, and maintained that profitability for a record number of quarters, preparing the business to be divested to JDS Uniphase. After her return to the U.S., AnnMarie served in Agilent’s Corporate Division, running C-Level projects and managing an $800M integration.
Prior to joining Agilent, she spent 2 years as an Executive Officer for Catapult Communications. There she managed and integrated a geographically diverse organization. Her efforts helped improve business operations, which prepared Catapult for acquisition by Ixia.
AnnMarie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen 777 North 1st Street, Suite 420, San Jose, CA 95112 (408) 998-1500 www.loavesfishes.org