“THEY TRIED TO BURY US; THEY DIDN’T KNOW WE WERE SEEDS.”
On March 20, 2018, our Founder, Executive Director & Director of Inspiration, Sonia Jo (Malone-Kendrick) Stover moved from this life to another. Sonia’s death was devastating to her family, Feed Iowa First and the community at large. Sonia was daughter, mother, visionary, truth-teller, combat veteran and founder of Feed Iowa First. As a self-proclaimed Food Democracy Activist, Sonia was a relentless champion of the basic human right that all humans have access to healthy food.
Feed Iowa First was founded by Sonia Kendrick in 2011 after she returned from Afghanistan as a combat veteran. Sonia saw the effects of hunger on the citizens of Afghanistan. She was surprised to come home to Iowa and find that her state had over 376,000 food insecure citizens and that we import over 90% of our food. In 2017, Sonia earned her master’s degree in sustainable organic food systems at Green Mountain College.
She was a visionary and an outspoken truth-teller on the dangers of a transportation-based food system. She inspired people across the nation and was tireless in the pursuit of her message about food insecurity. For these efforts, Sonia was honored at the White House on March 25, 2014, by Barack Obama as one of 10 local leaders who are Women Veteran Leader “Champions of Change.”
The event honored women veterans, highlighting their incredible contributions to our nation’s business, public and community service sectors. Although some would say her greatest accomplishment was her never-ending concern for the well-being of others. If a person was hungry she made sure they were fed no matter the circumstances.
On March 30, 2018, Sonia Kendrick was recognized by Representative Charles Isenhart of the Iowa House of Representatives, in words from an article titled “For Sonia’s sake, let’s keep our garden growing” written by Alison Gowans, of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. “I consider her to be a truth teller. She’s a voice that stood out apart from the crowd,” said her friend, the Rev. Stasia Fine of New Disciples of Cedar Rapids. “She was a truth-teller who was willing to say what was broken in our food system.”
Those of us on the Feed Iowa First Board of Directors are inspired by her life and work and will ensure that Feed Iowa First endures and thrives in her memory.
SONIA JO (MALONE-KENDRICK) STOVER Memorial. The Gazette – Cedar Rapids, IA. March 22, 2018.
Forrest Saunders. “Sonia Kendrick remembered as tireless fighter for hunger.” KCRG-TV9 – Cedar Rapids, IA. March 21, 2018.
Alison Gowans. “Striving to heal one meal at a time: Founder of Feed Iowa First dies at age 40.” The Gazette – Cedar Rapids, IA. March 21, 2018.
Cindy Hadish. “Tribute to Feed Iowa First founder Sonia Kendrick.” Homegrown Iowan. March 20, 2018.
Paul Brennan. “I believe plows are greater than swords’: Sonia Kendrick, founder of Feed Iowa First has died.” Little Village Magazine. March 21, 2018.
Tracy Saelinger. “Gardening Led This Veteran to a New Life of Hope and Healing.” Woman’s Day Magazine. May 2018. A follow-up story will be featured in the October edition of Woman’s Day Magazine.
Cindy Hadish. “Feed Iowa First founder Sonia Kendrick to be honored at the White House as “Champion of Change” Homegrown Iowan. March 24, 2014.