New president & CEO named with plenty of grocery experience

Published 12:24 am Saturday, July 2, 2022

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Southeast Texas Foodbank has a new president & CEO.

The organization said Harvey Zernial provides stability and confidence to donors and agency partners and knows the Foodbank’s inner workings, having been a board member for 15 years and a staff member for five years.

Zernial grew up one of ten children to Ann and Harvey Zernial Sr. in Lumberton. He and his family are members of Infant Jesus Catholic Church in Lumberton since 1967.

“My parents instilled in me a work ethic that I truly believe always pays off,” he said. “My mother always told me that the rewards of great effort is not always in dollars but in the smiles and hope you may instill or give to others. These type rewards are the ones that define me and possibly create the biggest change both in my life and those impacted by my efforts. My mom is my superhero and the smartest person I have ever met.”

Zernial spent 40 years in the retail grocery in leadership positions working for Market Basket, Kroger and then retiring after 27 years with HEB Grocery Company as general manager of one of the largest stores in the Houston Division.

He spent eight years in HEB supervision and two years in human resources overseeing 28 stores in the Houston and East Texas before settling back home in the HEB PLUS store in Beaumont.

He has served on several community organizations board of directors to include Southeast Texas Food Bank, Young Mens Business League (YMBL), Gift of Life, Beaumont Public Schools Foundation (BPSF), Lumberton Education Foundation (LEF), and the Lumberton School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) to name a few of passion.

He started a second career at the Southeast Texas Food Bank in 2017 as the director of programs and thoroughly enjoys the work and continuing his passion for helping people.

“Harvey is the right leader for the Southeast Texas Food Bank,” said Damon R Vacek, Chairman of the Board. “Harvey’s extensive background in the retail grocery business and his close working relationship with our partner agencies and donors will result in a smooth transition. The Board and I believe his strong leadership and experience will have a substantial impact toward achieving our mission to lead the fight against hunger in Southeast Texas.”

He has been married to his wife Alejandra for 33 years and has three children in Abby, Emily and Zach, with one grandchild, who all still live in Lumberton.

“I am very excited for this opportunity to continue to help my neighbors here in Southeast Texas by leading a great team of people who already share the same passions and goals,” Zernial said.

“My choice paths in food retail and community service, as well as my Food Bank Board service and 5 years of employment already, I believe, have positioned me very well for this new adventure and challenge. I truly want to continue the current growth of the Food Bank and to assist more people in the goal of eliminating hunger here in Southeast Texas.”