The name of Heather Stouffer’s company says it all – Mom Made Foods.
The local mom has built her small, Alexandria-based business into a 6-year-old venture with a national reach.
Her company, which offers nine items, is focused on creating healthy kids meals and snacks for the two to 10 year old set.
Stouffer was inspired to start her business when, as a full-time working mom, she went looking for healthy foods to feed her kids “when I was in a pinch – for those really busy days,” she said.
But, Stouffer said she couldn’t find anything that “wasn’t loaded with preservatives” or “loaded with junk.”
Luckily, Stouffer wasn’t deterred. It also helped that she comes from a “foodie family,” she said. Her brother is the executive chef at the National Gallery of Art, and he’s married to a chef.
Additionally, she grew up under the tutelage of her single mom, who worked full-time and taught her kids how to get the basics of dinner started before coming home from work.
“Dinner at the table also really helped us get through the ups and downs of divorce and our childhood,” Stouffer recalls. “We were a family unit coming together.”
Later, when she was starting her firm, she read studies showing that families that eat together are less likely to have a teenager who uses drugs and sitting down together at the dinner table also increases children’s conversational skills.
Stouffer said with the support of her husband, she left her full-time job and salary behind and never looked back.
“It’s meant major sacrifices for me and our family but on the other hand, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said.
Stouffer, who now oversees four full-time employees at her office off Slaters Lane, along with a host of contractors and support staff, still has time to serve on the Parent Teacher Association at Alexandria City Public Schools’ Macarthur Elementary and on the board of the Alexandria Small Business Development Center.
Her line of healthy, frozen foods for kids are available in the Washington metro area at Whole Foods and at other chain grocers around the country. Her antibiotic-free, low sodium meatballs are on the kids’ menu at Del Ray Café.
“We do a lot with Whole Foods Old Town. They are our backyard store,” she said. “We’re over there once a month doing something,” including participating in last weekend’s Back to School Festival.
“I say feed the body, feed the mind,” she said. “The healthier you can feed a child’s body, the more open they can be to having an open mind in the classroom.”