Edward J. Hekman, 65, an administrator of the Agriculture Department's food and nutrition service for seven years before resigning in 1976, died Tuesday at a hospital in Hilton Head, S.C.

He fell and suffered head injuries while playing tennis on March 11 and has been in the Hilton Head Island Hospital since that time.

Mr. Hekman was named administrator of the food and nutrition service when that agency was established in 1969. It operates agriculture's food programs, including food stamps, commodity donations for needy families, and programs for feeding children.

Mr. Hekman participated in the 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health, and two years later received the President's Management Improvement Award for "creative leadership in coordinating a broadened and intensified attack on hunger in America."

During his years in government, he helped expose abuses of the food stamp program and helped lead a drive in 1975 under president Gerald Ford to increase the cost of food stamps.

Since leaving the government, Mr. Hekman had lived in Hilton Head and worked as a food industry consultant.

He was a native of Grand Rapids, Mich., where he graduated from Calvin College. He served in the Navy during World War II and became president of the old United Biscuit Company, which became the Keebler Company, in 1960.

While with Keebler he had been a vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, a director of the Grocery Manufacturers of America, and a trustee and director of the Nutrition Foundation. He remained with Keebler until he went to Agriculture.

Survivors include his wife, Florence, of Hilton Head; a son, John, of Newton, Mass.; three daughters, Judith Thompson of Tunbridge, Vt., Marilyn Clark of Oak Park, Ill., and Susan Hekman of Dallas; a sister, Freda Tamminga of Holland, Mich., and seven grandchildren.