Mary K. Hoodhood
February 17, 2023
At age 27, Mary K. Hoodhood woke up in the hospital with a life- altering diagnosis. Following a car accident, she would spend the rest of her life paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Faced with a decision for where her life would go, Mary leaned into her life mantra, “I will focus on what I can do.” Building on her parents’ lessons about service and leadership, she started a nonprofit organization to feed 125 children. Today, Kids’ Food Basket is one of West Michigan’s most celebrated community resources, providing 1.6 million sack suppers annually, and Mary remains a force to be reckoned with.
Mary joined us to share her story of how living her values helped her to build a legacy.
Mary K. Hoodhood
Mary K. Hoodhood founded Kids' Food Basket in response to a story she heard about an elementary school student digging through the trash at school for food to take home. At its inception, Kids' Food Basket provided a sack supper to 125 children at three Grand Rapids' Public Schools. KFB currently feeds 1.6 million meals a year. She is also a strong and respected voice for those with disabilities. A defining moment of Mary K.'s life came in May 1980 when she was injured in a car accident leaving her a quadriplegic. She has been a wheelchair user ever since. Despite daily physical challenges that require patience, good humor, and pluck, Mary K.'s physical limitations have never prevented her from working and contributing to her community. Prior to Kids’ Food Basket, she volunteered and worked for God’s Kitchen, coordinating three programs, and worked for Disability Advocates. Her ability to inspire those around her has made Mary K. a leader who champions the needs of people who are often marginalized in society. For her work, Mary K. Hoodhood has been honored with many awards, among them L’Oréal Women of Worth, MLive’s 10 Women Who Shaped the State (Michigan), the George Romney Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Presidential Citizens Medal. You can get more information about Kids’ Food basket at kidsfoodbasket.org.