NORMAL — The path to the executive directorship of Midwest Food Bank's Bloomington-Normal Division began for Tara Ingham as she and her family rebuilt their Washington home following a 2013 tornado.
Ingham was announced Wednesday as executive director of the food bank, 2031 Warehouse Road, Normal.
Ingham, 39, of Washington worked for Verizon Wireless as a corporate trainer for 19 years.
But she told The Pantagraph that her experience with disaster led her to an interest in the food bank position.
The home that Ingham shares with her husband and their three children was damaged by a tornado that devastated Washington in 2013.
"It was uninhabitable," she said of their home. "We went through a rebuilding process along with 1,100 homeowners in our community.
"Being displaced and losing your belongings are things no one should go through," she said. "It's traumatic. The trauma after a disaster is difficult physically, emotionally and spiritually. ... Without knowing that there are agencies and people that care, I'm not sure that we would have made it through."
The experience renewed Ingham's desire to help others and she has been a lead volunteer at Midwest Food Bank's Morton location for the past four years.
"I want to continue the mission and the vision of Midwest Food Bank and to continue to provide food and disaster assistance to those in need," said Ingham, who will receive a master's degree in organizational leadership in May.
"The hiring of Tara allows Midwest Food Bank to continue to serve those in hunger while enabling sustainable growth," Midwest Food Bank Human Resources Director Mike Meece said in a statement. "We are fortunate to have such a highly qualified person serving in this position."
Ingham replaces Chad Bevers, who left Midwest Food Bank Bloomington-Normal in October to focus on his growing microbrewery business.
Midwest Food Bank's Bloomington-Normal Division has four employees and had 7,810 volunteers in 2018, said Communications Director Phil Hodel. Ingham is responsible for overseeing the food bank's food service programs, facilities, employees and volunteers as well as budgeting, fundraising, community engagement and other requirements of the not-for-profit operation, Hodel said.
The food bank's Bloomington-Normal division has a budget of $2.3 million and distributed 1.4 million cases of food last year to nonprofit organizations, Hodel said. Including all 10 of Midwest Food Bank's locations in the United States, Africa and Haiti, the organization distributed 6.6 million cases of food in 2018, Hodel said.
The food bank declined to release Ingham's salary figure, Hodel said.