President & CEO
St. Louis Area Foodbank
Location: Bridgeton, MO
As an Army veteran who used to jump out of airplanes, Meredith Knopp knows risk. In business, risk often leads to the greatest accomplishments, she said.
“You have to be willing to take risks if you are to discover both your true potential and the potential of those around you,” Knopp said. “The greatest rewards and accomplishments from the teams that I have had the honor to serve with all started with taking a risk — trying something new, thinking differently and by asking the simple question ‘how MIGHT we …’”
Knopp is the third president and CEO of the St. Louis Area Foodbank, which was launched in 1975 and provides food and resources to nearly 350,000 people in Missouri and Illinois.
Over the next five years, the Foodbank is focused on “collaborations, connections and advocating for policies and legislation to ensure that every resident has access to the healthy, nutritious and culturally appropriate foods that they need to thrive,” the agency said. “We strive to educate and empower communities with the training, tools, and resources to help their residents access the network of social services and, together, treat everyone with dignity and respect, while working to shorten the lines of people needing emergency food assistance in the first place.”
Under Knopp’s leadership, the St. Louis Area Foodbank has won numerous local and national awards. In 2019, the St. Louis Area Foodbank won the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for excellence in integrity, leadership and ethics. Knopp was honored as a Distinguished Veteran Leader by the MAC and recognized in the annual St. Louis Veterans Day Parade. The Foodbank was also recognized by the Jennings School District as an Outstanding Partner with the launch of its school market in the Jennings School District. In 2020, Knopp was named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Businesswomen. In 2021, the St. Louis Area Foodbank won a “Best in Bridgeton” Award in the Local Business category. The Foodbank was also recognized for Excellence in Civic Engagement by the Royal Vagabonds Society.
Knopp was named chair of board of directors for both Feeding Illinois and Feeding Missouri. In 2022, the St. Louis Area Foodbank won a Best in Bridgeton Award in the Non-Profit Organization category. It also received a National Network Celebration Award from Feeding America as one of six food banks out of 200 recognized for Excellence in Community Building.
“Knopp is most proud of how the team members that call the Foodbank home have come together to serve and support our community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and now with the current economic situation and inflation,” Knopp’s team said. “The Foodbank never closed its doors. Instead, we found ways to innovate and provide food to the families who needed it most, many for the first time, and truly came together as a team — supporting, collaborating, laughing, crying and truly being there for one another.”
Upon graduation from college Meredith was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. After going through training at Fort McClellan, AL and Airborne School at Fort Benning, GA, “ she went on to serve as a platoon leader in Fort Hood, Texas, “ deploying to Bosnia in 1996 and later served as a platoon leader in the 1st Cavalry Division. She went on to serve as a Company Commander, forward deployed to Korea, and worked with NASA on unmanned aerial vehicle technology before transitioning out of the military almost 8 years later. FYI-she has not been camping or slept in a tent since!