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Kate Maehr

Executive Director & CEO

Kate Maehr has led the Greater Chicago Food Depository in its mission to end hunger since 2006. In this role, she guides a number of strategic initiatives and accomplishments to distribute nutritious food across Cook County while addressing the root causes of hunger.

Under Kate’s leadership, the Food Depository has evolved operations and expanded distribution to meet rising demand for food. She has also steered the organization through several periods of heightened community need, ensuring that the Food Depository was ready to serve and execute a comprehensive emergency food response during the Great Recession of 2008 and the COVID-19 health crisis.

While still developing new programs to better serve priority populations, Kate also oversees the creation and growth of innovation at the Food Depository. She remains a passionate and staunch advocate of anti-hunger policies and has been called to testify before Congress and the Illinois General Assembly. In 2013, Feeding America presented Kate with the Dick Goebel Public Service Award, which is given annually to one individual in the national network of food banks.

Programs & Initiatives

  • 2008, established the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach program at the Food Depository to designate staff to help enroll food insecure households in public benefits like SNAP and Medicaid, and in 2009 launched an initiative to train food pantry partners to do benefits outreach.
  • 2010, the Food Depository launched its Lunch Bus program to deliver nutritious lunches to children during the summer months.
  • 2010, the Illinois Commission to End Hunger was established in statute to convene public-private stakeholders around a plan to end hunger in Illinois, with Kate appointed as co-chair.
  • 2013, the Food Depository partnered with Jesse Brown VA Medical Center to open one of the nation’s first food pantries in a VA hospital.
  • 2015, a partnership was developed with a local community health network to connect food insecure patients with nutritious food resources.
  • 2016, the Food Depository started a partnership with City Colleges of Chicago to provide food for students at risk of food insecurity.
  • 2020, the Food Depository partnered with the mayor’s office to convene community partners to develop a food equity agenda for the city of Chicago, and in 2021 formally established the Chicago Food Equity Council with Kate named as co-chair.
  • 2021, the Food Depository launched its award-winning Food Equity Ambassadors program to support the advocacy capacity of community partners.
  • 2022, the Food Depository established the Community Council for Food Equity comprised of individuals experiencing food insecurity to inform the organization’s policy work and participate in an advocacy leadership training program.


Kate is an active participant and leading voice in the mission to end hunger.

  • Co-chair, City of Chicago Food Equity Council
  • Co-chair, Illinois Commission to End Hunger
  • Board member, Feeding America
  • Board member, Feeding Illinois (the state’s coalition of food banks)
  • Member, The Illinois Commission on Poverty Elimination and Economic Security
  • Member, Economic Club of Chicago
  • Member, The Chicago Network


Kate holds a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College and a master’s degree in public policy and administration from the University of Wisconsin. She received honorary degrees from Knox College in 2011 and DePaul University in 2015.