GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Kids’ Food Basket sends a sack dinner home from school every weekday with some 10,000 children in West Michigan. But this huge operation started out as a simple idea to feed a few dozen hungry children.
Mary K. Hoodhood, the founder of Kids Food Basket, was the mastermind behind the operation. Several decades ago, Hoodhood was working at God’s Kitchen with the Meals on Wheels program. When she heard about a school principal who found a little girl digging through the trash at school for food to take home to her family, Hoodhood said she knew she had to do something.
Kids’ Food Basket started out providing food for 125 children. Now, the organization’s outreach spans across four counties in West Michigan.
“I knew I could get the food. I knew I could get the volunteers. I knew I could raise the money,” said Hoodhood. “Like I always tell people, it’s not rocket science.”
Hoodhood wrote her memoir with the help of co-author Lisa McNeilley to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Kids’ Food Basket this year.
You can watch the full interview with Hoodhood and McNeilley in the video player above.
At 27 years old, Hoodhood was paralyzed in a car accident. In her memoir, “What I Can Do,” she tells the story of coming back from her injures to get married about a year after the accident. She and her husband Jeff have now been married more than 40 years.
Hoodhood says it took years for her body to recover to the point where she could become more active. She certainly did — not only founding Kids’ Food Basket, but also working at God’s Kitchen and Disability Advocates. She has served on multiple community boards and received the U.S. Presidential Citizens medal in 2010.