Huntington Insights: West Michigan | Community | Spring 2018

Kids’ Food Basket: Helping to feed kids

Kids’ Food Basket provides weekday evening meals for 7,500 children

For busy families, dinner often means wrangling time and taste buds. However, for the one in five children throughout Western Michigan who are food insecure, dinner dilemmas are far more difficult.

The answer, for many, is Kids’ Food Basket (KFB), a nonprofit organization founded by Mary K. Hoodhood that packs and distributes nutritionally balanced evening meals to local children. “We know that when we nourish kids’ bodies and brains, we give them tools to thrive,” says Executive Director Bridget Clark Whitney. “Many socioeconomic barriers to quality nutrition exist in our communities, but the bottom line is, kids need to be fed.”

What Kids’ Food Basket does

KFB is doing more than filling hungry bellies. The organization is helping reverse the negative impacts of hunger on cognitive development, truancy and behavior.  One school reported test scores rose 21 percent in the first year of its partnership with KFB.

Each meal contains a fruit, vegetable, protein and snack, and meals are delivered to a school or other site for a child to carry home. Providing 7,500 meals each school day is an enormous undertaking, supported by 250 volunteers, with 33 percent of hours volunteered done so by those under the age of 18. “We are powered by an engine of community members dedicated to seeing kids reach their potential,” Whitney says.

How it helps

KFB recently purchased 10 acres of farmland and launched the Urban Growing and Experiential Learning Initiative. In addition to growing local produce, the farm will serve as an outdoor classroom, teaching children about making healthy food choices. Additionally, KFB formed the Kids’ Supper Club to serve as a national model for other communities’ efforts to combat childhood hunger.

Through the years, Huntington has helped KFB deliver on its mission by providing financial support and sponsoring events that benefit the organization. “Huntington is a leader in volunteerism, and its employees have been willing to lend their time and talents to help our organization move forward,” Whitney says.

About the organization

Name:Kids’ Food Basket
Website: www.kidsfoodbasket.org
Regions served:

  • Greater Grand Rapids area, serving approximately 6,000 meals/day
  • Muskegon/Lakeshore community, serving 800 meals/day
  • Holland/Ottawa County, serving 700 meals/day

Phone: (616) 235-4532
Mission: To attack childhood hunger to help young people learn and live well.

How you can help

Kids’ Food Basket currently has a waiting list of 33 schools. To learn how you can help KFB maintain and expand its services, visit www.kidsfoodbasket.org