Jessica Cantin, the new CEO of Food For Free, the leading food rescue and redistribution nonprofit in Eastern Massachusetts.
SOMERVILLE/CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Growing up, Jessica Cantin was taught to nurture people through food and ensure no one goes hungry. Cantin will bring these lessons into her role as the new CEO of Food For Free.
Cantin brings more than 20 years of experience in health and human services. Headquartered in Cambridge and Somerville, Mass., Food For Free rescues food that would otherwise go to waste and creates new distribution channels to reach underserved populations in 27 communities across the region. Founded in 1981 as one of the nation’s first food rescue organizations, the nonprofit now serves more than 150,000 food insecure Massachusetts residents and distributes 7.5 million pounds of nutritious fresh and prepared foods annually.
Cantin’s intimate connection to food and its universal role as a connective tissue was shaped by her early life experiences. She is candid about the challenges she faced as a child, including periods of food insecurity.
“Growing up, I experienced firsthand the challenges and stigmas of food insecurity,” says Cantin “Those moments shaped my perspective and fueled my passion for ensuring every individual and family has access to nutritious food. At Food For Free, we are not just addressing the immediate need for food but also innovating to reduce food waste and strengthen community food systems. I am deeply honored to step into this role and continue the remarkable work that this organization has been doing. Together, with our dedicated team and partners, we’ll drive impactful changes and ensure no one in our community goes hungry.”
As the new CEO, Cantin is focused on building relationships to better understand the needs of individuals and families in each of the communities that Food For Free serves across the region, an especially important tasks as Massachusetts continues to struggle with high food insecurity rates post-pandemic. Ultimately, she hopes to increase the nonprofit’s reach with new and existing programs while advocating for policies that will minimize food waste and expand access to fresh and healthy food for all Massachusetts residents.
“I am thrilled that Jessica Cantin will be Food For Free’s next CEO. She is exactly what we need at this moment in our history — a proven nonprofit leader who puts people first,” says Amy Copperman, Food For Free’s Interim Board Chair. “I have no doubt Jessica will successfully guide Food For Free to continue to innovate and expand our programming to bring nourishment to the communities in Massachusetts who need it most.”
Before joining the Food For Free team, Cantin served nearly eight years as the CEO at YWCA New Hampshire, driving significant revenue and programmatic growth. She also co-developed the Southern New Hampshire University Center for New Americans, a testament to her innovative leadership and collaborative approach. Previously, Cantin worked in the public sector advocating for family assistance programs and policy and was an Adjunct Professor at Springfield College where she earned her Master of Science in Organizational Management and Leadership. She has received numerous leadership and social equity awards and sits on the board the National Association YWCA Executives and Manchester True Collaborative.
About Food For Free
Food For Free is a Cambridge and Somerville-based non-profit organization dedicated to providing Eastern Massachusetts with reliable access to fresh and nutritious food. The nonprofit accomplishes its mission through food rescue, partnerships with schools, colleges, and community food programs, as well as direct service programs. In the last year, Food For Free distributed 7.5 million pounds of nutritious food to over 27 communities throughout Eastern Massachusetts. To learn more, visit: http://www.foodforfree.org, or follow Food For Free on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @foodforfreeorg.