Teenager Feeds the Hungry of America
All it takes is one little seedling to feed a whole lot of people, something that one green-thumbed teenager found out and built on to feed the hungry of America.
Katie Stagliano, 16 from South Carolina, was nine when her teacher gave her a cabbage seedling as part of a school project. She didn’t really have a passion for gardening, but she planted her seedling in the back garden and watered it every day. Before she knew it, Katie had an 18kg (40 pounds) cabbage on her hands.
She saw how special the huge cabbage was and decided to donate it to the local soup kitchen, where it was cooked up with rice and ham and served to hungry people. In the end, that one little seedling helped feed more than 275 people.
That was when Katie fell in love with gardening and helping people.
Her vegetable garden was growing, and soon it was no longer just a small plot in her back garden. Her school said she could create something bigger and better on the school grounds, and Katie leapt at the chance.
Here she could grow even more food for the hungry people in her town, as well as encourage her friends and classmates to get more excited about gardening and the wonders that can come from it.
Now, seven years after planting that first seedling, Katie’s community garden supplies 1,360kg (3,000 pounds) of fruit and veg that is donated to local charities, through her initiative Katie’s Krops.
And where there was once one garden, there now stands 80 in 29 of the US states. But she doesn’t want to stop there; she wants to reach 500 vegetable gardens in all 50 of the states!
Katie’s Krops also raises money for grants that enable other young people to follow in Katie’s footsteps and grow fruit and vegetables to feed the hungry in their own communities. Sometimes the programme donates to charities or events, too.
“I know that hunger is way too big for one person to take on,” she explained, “but you never know what you can grow from just one thing.”
This isn’t all she has been up to, however. That soup kitchen where she donated her first home-grown cabbage closed down, leaving those dependent on it with nowhere to go.
In typical Katie fashion, she wanted to help out and she realised that she had these gardens still filled with loads of fresh fruit and vegetables. She now hosts a Katie’s Krops dinner event once a month, with up to 100 diners visiting for a hot and healthy meal.
Her hard work over the years has not gone unnoticed. In 2012, she was awarded the Clinton Global Citizen Award, which honours “outstanding individuals” through their vision and leadership.
Katie has even created a picture book which tells the tale of how she came to be the Teen Queen when it comes to growing crops and feeding the hungry. The book has now been published and she hopes it inspires others to do the same.
So remember, you never know how much can come from the smallest seed, and there are no age restraints of when you can start helping others.