Sherry Hooper ’86
Executive director, The Food Depot
As a child growing up in Kansas City, Sherry Hooper (B.A. ’86) watched her mother struggle to feed her family. Today, Hooper helps other families going through the same challenges.
Hooper is executive director of The Food Depot, a food bank in Santa Fe, N.M., that distributes about 445,000 pounds of food per month. She describes her job as a “dream come true.”
“I’m in a beautiful area, working with a generous community, doing work that brings me joy,” Hooper says. “What could be better?”
Attending classes at UMKC allowed Hooper to live at home and support herself while going to school. Without UMKC, Hooper says, she may not have gotten a college education at all.
“People in and near Kansas City are fortunate to have UMKC so convenient to them,” she says. “I’m not sure I would have moved forward with a degree if I hadn’t had such easy access to UMKC.”
Hooper studied history with the intention of going into politics, joining several campus groups along the way.
“Beyond the classes, I worked on the Program Board for the university and got involved in many groups – mostly political,” Hooper said. “My experience at UMKC gave me the confidence to launch a career, not just find a job.”
Once Hooper got a job in local government, however, she realized it wasn’t what she wanted. That’s when she began working at Harvesters–The Community Food Network. When Hooper got the opportunity to be their community relations director, she took it and never looked back.
“I had found my passion,” Hooper says. “My work at the food bank enables me to offer help to those parents who are making the same choices my mother was forced to make: pay the mortgage or buy food; pay the utilities to keep the heat on in winter or buy food; pay for health care or buy food.”
Today, Hooper’s food bank distributes an average of 445,000 pounds of food and household products per month. They also partner with more than 145 partner agencies to fund hot meals, homeless shelters, youth programs, senior centers and more for people in need.