Sonia Kendrick remembered as tireless fighter of hunger

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A program that puts good food into hungry mouths faces an uncertain future in eastern Iowa. The creator of Feed Iowa First, Sonia Kendrick (Stover), 40, died Tuesday. She was found not breathing at her shop in Cedar Rapids on 10th Street Southeast.

Since 2011, Kendrick had helped the area's food insecure with Feed Iowa First. (Joel Girdner/KCRG-TV9)

Since 2011, Kendrick had helped the area's food insecure with Feed Iowa First. Her efforts turned a half-acre into more than 40 different farming spaces. With that land, Kendrick produced thousands of pounds of fresh organic food for pantries and other programs up and down eastern Iowa, each year.

The recipients were mourning her death, Wednesday.

"The loss is going to be very impactful," said Dr. Mark Ravenhair-Pena with Cedar River First Nations Community. "As long as I have known Sonia, she has worked very hard. I don't believe anybody in this county is going to do what Sonia has done."

Kendrick was the driving force behind her program-- doing much of the manual labor herself or with the help of only a few others. Her time and sweat for Feed Iowa First earned her recognition locally and nationally. The White House dubbed her a "Champion of Change" a few years ago.

"She used to say, 'plows are more powerful than swords,'" said Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese.

Those that knew Kendrick, like Friese, are now working to ensure her legacy lives on. They've created an online site where those interested in helping Feed Iowa First can sign up.

The response, said Friese, has been encouraging.

"It's been up there for less than 24 hours," he said. "There are about 100 names on it already. That's the kind of passion she engendered to people."

Sonia Jo (Malone-Kendrick) Stover’s funeral will be 2:15 p.m., Friday at Brosh Chapel in Cedar Rapids. A celebration of life will follow from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.