The daughter of Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy and the author of a new book about her mother says the company “made some mistakes” during its unveiling of a new giving strategy and is “trying to make some corrections.”
Trudy Cathy White, the only daughter of Truett and Jeannette Cathy, spoke to Christian Headlines Monday about her new book, A Quiet Strength, which recounts the life and legacy of Jeannette Cathy, who passed away in 2015 at the age of 92. Truett Cathy preceded her in death in 2014.
White, an ambassador for Chick-fil-A, said her mother, if alive, would have told her children to pray about the controversy over the change in giving strategy by the Chick-fil-A Foundation. Many customers were upset in 2019 when it was learned the Foundation was withdrawing its financial support of the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and instead would fund Covenant House International, Junior Achievement, and local food banks
“My mom was really good about telling us to always learn from our mistakes,” White told Christian Headlines. “And I think in these last few months with some of things we've walked through, we've realized that we've made some mistakes. We're trying to make some corrections in those. We discredited maybe some really outstanding organizations that needed recognition. And so we're learning from those things.
“What my mom always said: Let your actions speak louder than your words. So be true to who you are, and who we are as a family [is a family] who is really wanting to invest in Christian faith-based organizations. We're really wanting to make a difference in this world. We're wanting to sell good chicken, but the Lord is using that chicken sandwich as a tool to allow us to have a positive influence on our culture.”
Asked if the Chick-fil-A Foundation might donate to the Salvation Army in the future, White said, “most definitely.”
“We have lots of channels with our giving,” she told Christian Headlines. “... We believe what Jesus said. He said that it's better to give than to receive. So we want to be generous – not just with our finances, but with our time and with our talents, and particularly with our influence. And so we are working hard to make sure that we are being careful and that we're stewarding well what God has given us – to use it for faith-based organizations to be able to have a great impact.”
White and her husband, John, served as missionaries in Brazil and later co-founded Lifeshape and the Impact 360 Institute, two faith-based non-profit organizations.
Editor’s note: This is part one in a two-part series about A Quiet Strength and Jeannette Cathy.
Photo courtesy: Trudy Cathy White
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.