RANTIN: Midlands area gets new advocate for hunger relief

brantin @thestate.com (803) 771-8306January 1, 2014 

Clara Cooper

— While serving with a Houston-based hunger relief agency, Clara B. Cooper first became aware of the Souper Bowl of Caring.

Although keenly aware of the reality of hunger at the local level, she said, the agency’s efforts made her even more conscious of the similar challenges being experienced by others across the country. Today it’s a challenge she’s meeting head on.

The former executive director of Target Hunger in Houston took the helm as president and executive director of The Souper Bowl of Caring last month.

The Columbia-born organization anchors a nationwide day of food donations each Super Bowl Sunday, encouraging youth groups and others across the country to hold special food drives in their communities. Through the years, the reported annual food and cash donations have reached $10 million.

“I look forward to raising awareness about hunger at a national level and to continue growing this movement of giving,” Cooper said. “When youth across the country are energized to help those who are less fortunate and unite for a common cause, thousands of hungry individuals can receive help.”

Cooper earned a bachelor of science degree in sociology from Lamar University and an MBA from LeTourneau University. She began her career in social services with Big Brothers & Sisters of Fort Bend, in the Houston area, and worked as a manager of fund development at United Way of Greater Houston.

“Among a field of talented applicants, Clara Cooper’s leadership ability, unique skill set and passion made it clear she is the right person to help this grassroots movement move toward the vision of seeing the time around Super Bowl become a period of unprecedented serving and giving,” said Brad Smith, board chairman and founder of Souper Bowl of Caring.

Cooper has served on the board of the Houston Food Bank, as board chairman with Camp Fire Boys and Girls of Houston and on the board of Coalition for the Homeless Houston.

“Amazingly, all of my past roles will be helpful with my new job,” she said.

Cooper succeeds Tracy Bender, who stepped down after eight years to become executive director of marketing and communications at Columbia College.

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