Our Team

We are the same team at UNC that is known for speaking up for underused USDA child nutrition programs throughout North Carolina. We proudly stand alongside our trusted partners – state agencies, school nutrition teams, food banks and other community food service providers – celebrating YOUR great work and working for change to make your jobs easier, while building awareness to assure our kids get access to healthy meals that fuel their minds and bodies.

Lou Anne Crumpler


As director, Lou Anne oversees the vision for Carolina Hunger Initiative’s statewide work to improve access to healthy meals. No Kid Hungry North Carolina, a campaign of Share Our Strength, was established under Lou Anne’s leadership in 2011 in the NC Governor’s Office and is now a partnership with the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Previously, she was engaged in corporate, nonprofit, and public service work focusing on enterprises that serve the greater good.

Lou Anne served as the first Executive Director of the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund, created in 2000 to invest tobacco settlement funds. She led the Advisory Board and staff in setting the initial goals and priorities of the fund to address teen tobacco use and affordable prescription drugs for seniors. Lou Anne’s passion for the arts led to her prior service on UNC School of the Arts’ Board of Trustees and Foundation Board, and an appointment by NC Governor Roy Cooper to serve on the board for the North Carolina Arts Council. She also was invited by the NC Secretary of Health and Human Services to be a partner in the development of NCCARE360, a comprehensive directory of resources and referral system to improve the health and well-being of NC citizenry.

Tamara Baker

Project and Communications Director

Tamara leads the Summer and Afterschool Nutrition work, and communications, for the Carolina Hunger Initiative. She has been a part of No Kid Hungry North Carolina since it was established in 2011. She also manages the federal SNAP-Education grant for improving nutrition policy, systems and the related environment for children in low income areas. Tamara began her career in Washington, DC, as press secretary for a member of the Agriculture Committee in Congress, then worked with USDA information services before moving to a large public relations agency where she led global public relations for the relief agency Feed the Children. She was relocated back to North Carolina by the pharmaceutical leader GlaxoSmithKline.

Andrew Harrell

Program and Communication Manager

As Program and Communication Manager for the Carolina Hunger Initiative, Andrew is responsible for digital content and contributes to overall planning for strategy and outreach. During COVID-19 school closures, he maintained online tools for finding meals for children statewide and managed North Carolina’s application process for the Emergency Meals-to-You program. Andrew is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, where he majored in Communication Studies with a focus in Media Production. He began working with the No Kid Hungry North Carolina team in 2017.

Helen Roberts

School Breakfast Program Manager

Helen leads the Carolina Hunger Initiative’s collaboration with No Kid Hungry North Carolina to increase access to school breakfast. She has been a part of this work since the inception of the No Kid Hungry NC campaign in 2011 under Governor Bev Perdue. Since 2013, Helen has helped organize the NC School Breakfast Challenge, an annual recognition of the schools with the greatest increase in school breakfast participation. She was also a member of North Carolina’s team at No Kid Hungry’s 2018 School Breakfast Leadership Institute, which led to almost $100,000 in grants to school districts in support of innovative breakfast programs. Before getting involved in child nutrition, Helen taught physics for 35 years at Broughton High School in Raleigh.

Jessica Soldavini, PhD, MPH, RD, LDN

Research Specialist

Jessica’s work focuses on food insecurity, federal nutrition programs, and nutrition and cooking education. She has been involved in both research projects and public health practice related to these areas. Jessica oversees the nutrition education program, research and evaluation efforts, and volunteers and interns for the Carolina Hunger Initiative and No Kid Hungry NC. She also teaches a nutrition policy course at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Jessica received her PhD in nutrition from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, MPH in Community Health Sciences from the University of California, Los Angeles, and BS in nutritional sciences – dietetics from the University of California, Berkeley. She is also a Registered Dietitian and completed a Certificate in Culinary Arts. She has received numerous recognitions for her work including the 2021 NC Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Outstanding Dietitian of the Year, 2020 Mary P. Huddleson Award for exceptional paper published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2019 James Beard Foundation National Scholar Award, and 2019 Rise Against Hunger World Hunger Leadership Award.

Marlee Marrotta Caregnato, MPH, RDN, LDN

Nutrition Specialist

Marlee oversees and implements the nutrition education program. She has worked with the Carolina Hunger Initiative team since 2020. Since joining the team, she helped create and implement virtual nutrition education programs and navigated restarting in person nutrition education lessons in eligible Orange County elementary schools post-COVID. Marlee works closely with interns for the Carolina Hunger Initiative to implement nutrition education programs. She also assists the team on various research projects and develops nutrition education resources for the team and partners. Marlee received her MPH in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a BS in Applied Nutrition Science from North Carolina State University. She is also a Registered Dietitian.

Jana Saur

Program Specialist

As a Program Specialist for Carolina Hunger Initiative, Jana supports planning, organizing, and implementing child nutrition program activities, promotions, and communications. Current programs include Summer EBT, Summer Food Service Program, School Breakfast Program, and School Meals for All NC.

Jana was inspired to commit time and energy to creating more food access and security after seeing the negative impacts of hunger in the classroom when her oldest child began elementary school. Witnessing the effects of hunger within the community led her to become passionate about equitable food access, agency, and nutrition as it relates to mental and physical health. Jana’s passion fueled years of experience in the nonprofit sector, co-founding and operating PORCH Raleigh, a chapter of PORCH Communities, focused on supporting local pantries.

Interns and Graduate Students

Much of our work couldn’t happen without the students from UNC-Chapel Hill and beyond who join our team as interns, youth ambassadors, and child nutritionists to work on nutrition education materials, cooking programs with kids, and more.

Visit our interns page to learn more about recent team members. If you’re interested in being a part of the team, contact Jessica Soldavini.