What is a Katie's Krops Dinner?
The 5 year anniversary of the Katie's Krops Dinner is rapidly approaching. It seemed only appropriate to update and share this blog again. Thank you to everyone who has helped us make each and every Katie's Krops Dinner possible! #EndHunger #FiveYearsStrong
One, sometimes two, times a month we host a Katie's Krops Dinner. So just what is a Katie's Krops Dinner? Why do we host Katie's Krops Dinners?
Almost five years ago a need presented itself in my community. That need was for hot, healthy, free meals for families and individuals facing hunger. The only soup kitchen in our community had to shut their doors for financial reasons. I had been donating fresh vegetables from our Katie's Krops gardens to the soup kitchen. The individuals who relied on the soup kitchen for meals had become my friends. In my heart I knew I needed to help them, to find a way to provide healthy meals to these individuals. I may have been only twelve years old, but I recognized that our local Katie's Krops Gardens and my friends could be the solution to this problem.
What was the solution? Using the harvest from our gardens we could create healthy, hot meals for anyone in need in my home town, Summerville, South Carolina. At Katie's Krops, we had always donated our harvest to food pantries, soup kitchens and directly to families in need but at that point in time we had never cooked with our harvest. I approached the head of Food Services at my school, Mr. McNeill and my 6th Grade Science teacher, Cory Fuller. Together we created a plan. We would arrange a meal based on the harvest from our Katie's Krops Gardens. What we couldn't grow we would need to purchase. Our garden volunteers would help us create the dinner. The very first Katie's Krops Dinner was born.
That very first night we came together to host a dinner was so very special. My friends and I, under the direction of our Head Chef Mr. McNeill prepared a wonderful meal. We were able to connect with the people that our gardens helped. We took to the kitchen, the majority of the volunteers only in the 6th grade. Mr. McNeill directed us on knife skills and food safety. The guests arrived, perhaps a little surprised to see such a young crew creating their meal. At the end of the night everyone in the kitchen knew that this was the start of something very special.
Over four years have passed since that very first dinner. The premise for the dinner stays the same. Every meal is based on the harvest from our gardens. We harvest the vegetables on the day we serve them, at the peak of nutrition. The meals are prepared and served by youth under the direction of Mr. McNeill or Chef Jim Gray. Every volunteer who assists with the dinners spends time in the gardens helping to grow the food we serve. Katie's Krops Dinners are truly garden to table.
Over the course of four years several things have changed. After overcoming several location changes we now serve our dinners at Summerville Baptist Church and have done so for three plus years. The parishioners have welcomed us with open arms and embraced the belief that youth can end hunger one vegetable garden at a time. The number of guests we now serve has grown to an average of 150 per dinner. We never know just how many guests will join us. It is all part of the adventure.
We have an amazing core group of volunteers, our crew. My former 6th grade science teacher Ms. Cory and our Head Chef lead our crew as we, in under two hours, prepare a healthy hot meal for 150 people. We have guests that have never missed a dinner. In fact the meals have become a wonderful social event, a way for families who are facing challenges to support one and other.
What have I learned over the four plus years that we have hosted our dinners? I have learned that you can eat healthy on a tight budget. Our dinners are not extravagant, they do not cost a great deal of money but they are healthy, hot and well balanced always including lots of fresh vegetables, protein and a starch. I have learned that no matter how young you are you can make a difference in this world. I have learned the joy that a hot meal can bring to an individual facing hunger. And I have learned how blessed I am to have amazing support from my community, my friends and their parents, my teachers, and my parents.
Thank you to everyone who has helped make each and every Katie's Krops Dinners possible. Here is to another 5 amazing years!