GRAND RAPIDS, Mi. — "Healthy, nourishing food is not a privilege, healthy nourishing food should always everyday be our rights." That is the simple foundation that Kids Food Basket was built upon. An organization that's celebrating 20 years of changing lives in West Michigan.
There are more than 28,000 children in Ottawa, Allegan, Muskegon and Kent counties who are food insecure - not always knowing where their next meal will come from.
During the school day, these children have access to breakfast and lunch, but what happens on evenings, weekends, holidays, summer? That was how Kids Food Basket got started - and two decades later, the mission is the same, but the ways the organization gets there has certainly grown. "We can't have a strong West Michigan without strong kids and families. And when we all show up for each other, that's really the essence of community.” Bridget Clark-Whitney is the President and Founding CEO of Kids Food Basket, an organization that embodies everything that is community. A grassroots movement that has grown, evolved and continues to create real change for families. She says they went "from serving 125 children each day to now serving over 9000 healthy, nourishing meals as well as providing nutrition education programming across West Michigan.”
Created in 2002 by Mary K. Hoodhood with just $3000 and a handful of volunteers after learning about the problems from a local principal. "She was frequently seeing children who were struggling with food insecurity issues, oftentimes coming in the morning not having eaten since they were at school the day before. And she was such an advocate for her students, she called all of her friends and anyone in the social sector who would listen to her to tell them about the issues they had in her school, all stemming from of course, poverty."
The first goal, to feed those hungry children - by sending them home with a simple brown bag. "This sack supper is full of healthy, nourishing food, protein, dairy, healthy snacks, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables, all good healthy food that our children, our teachers and our families can count on five days a week through the school year and then again throughout the summer." Today those sack suppers reach children in Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa and Allegan counties, but the mission goes far beyond that.
KFB goes into schools, to connect with young students and foster a love of fresh, healthy food - while showing them where it comes from. Changing minds and tastes in West Michigan and beyond. During the month of March, Kids Food Basket will hold Go Orange campaign - called Tic Tac Go Orange this year. We will be featuring more stories on the event and how the organization is using education and advocacy to forward their mission. If you would like more information, head to https://kidsfoodbasket.org/.