A Young Girl's School Gardening Project Became a Mission to End Food Insecurity.

A Young Girl's School Gardening Project Became a Mission to End Food Insecurity.

May 23, 2023 by Cathy Stack

SUMMERVILLE, SC—In 2008, Katie Stagliano was a 9-year-old third grader when she began a gardening project as part of a school assignment. Her teacher told her to plant vegetable seeds in her home garden; a task Katie took seriously. She carefully tended her seedling and watched in amazement as three tiny green cabbage leaves grew to become an enormous, 40-pound cabbage. That first gardening experience sparked a lifelong mission that continues to this day. Katie started a nonprofit that encourages youth to start their own garden. They now have 100 gardens throughout the country. All healthy produce grown is distributed to local soup kitchens. They have donated 500,000 pounds of fresh produce and have served more than 40,000 meals.

Katie’s cabbage was so uniquely large that people encouraged her to donate it to a local soup kitchen. The soup kitchen’s cook mixed the cabbage with chicken and ham to make a delicious and hearty soup, and Katie helped serve the soup to her community. As she served, she experienced awe to realize how her seed transformed into a nutritious, healthy meal for more than 275 people.


That deeply moving experience planted the seed of an idea that served as a catalyst for an inspiring, world-changing movement.


As a hobby, Katie and other students started planting vegetable gardens throughout the community. They donated their produce to the local soup kitchen. Katie dreamed of one day expanding her hobby into a harvest movement where youth-maintained vegetable gardens would help support soup kitchens and food shelter organizations. She imagined an end to food insecurity worldwide by growing one vegetable garden at a time.


In 2010, the only local soup kitchen in Katie’s community closed due to lack of funding. The closure motivated her to turn her harvest movement dream into a reality when she launched Katie’s Krops. Through the non-profit organization, volunteers prepare meals using produce donated by youth-maintained gardens. Local high school students serve the meals, and anyone in need within the community is invited. In the beginning, Katie’s Krops hosted weekly community seated dinners that served up to up to 200 meals at a time.

During the pandemic, due to safety protocols, the organization shifted to a distribution program. Volunteers now hand out weekly dinners in to-go boxes in designated parking lots. With the new model, and due to increasing community need, the organization has expanded to serve 600 meals per week. Caring volunteers also deliver to encampments of unhoused individuals to make sure they receive fresh and healthy meals.


Katie said that her favorite day of the week is distribution day when she gets to personally hand out the homemade meals. She considers everyone involved with Katie’s Krops her second family.


“Great things grow from humble beginnings,” she said.


The student-run gardens affiliated with Katie’s Krops now include 100 gardens across the United State and two in Africa. Collectively, they have donated 500,000 pounds of fresh produce and have served more than 40,000 meals to those struggling with food insecurity.


In addition, the Katie’s Krops outdoor classroom provides gardening classes and hands-on learning to children, adults and families. The organization hopes to empower children and to teach them how to become good stewards of the Earth.


Katie hopes to start gardens in all 50 states and then expand internationally. She and her team hope to inspire others to create a worldwide harvest movement.


PassItOn and The Foundation For a Better Life believe that Katie is a hero. Her action is a great example of making a difference. She proves that one person’s action can have the power to create a ripple effect of positive, long-term change in the world. Young or old, you can make a difference.  Please help celebrate Katie by sharing her inspiring story.


If you would like to learn more about Katie and her mission: https://katieskrops.com/about-us/

Watch video here: https://youtu.be/sKg18FLA9IE


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