Though proud of her new ventures and accolades, Katie’s focus has remained the same: to end hunger garden by garden.
“My vision is to have 500 gardens in all 50 states, and then I’d love to start Katie’s Krops internationally,” she says. “I know when you put all our growers together — no matter how large or small their efforts — we’re making a huge impact.”
Over the past 20 years, the Sodexo Stop Hunger Movement has been a leading force in the fight against hunger and has empowered leaders to grow communities across America like this one in Charleston, SC.
This story starts with a single cabbage. But it wasn’t just any cabbage, however. It was a 40-pound cabbage, grown by a 9 year old girl named Katie Stagliano.
This young gardener donated that huge cabbage to her local soup kitchen, and it fed more than 275 people. Inspired by that experience, she started Katie’s Krops. The non-profit now has 100 gardens around the country, all grown by kids who are donating these healthy foods to feed the hungry in their communities.
Today, Katie is 17 years, but she’s still the youngest recipient of the University of California’s 30 Under 30 leaders in the food industry. (She was also the youngest recipient of the Clinton Global Citizen Award.) I had the pleasure of meeting Katie in my garden blogging work, and she was kind enough to allow me to interview her today for UC Food Observer.
Q) Congratulations on being named among University of California’s 30 Under 30. How does it feel to be called one of 30 young leaders making a difference in our food system?
Katie Stagliano: At 17 years old, it is an incredible honor to be named among the University of California’s 30 Under 30. If you would have asked me at nine years old, before I donated my cabbage to Tri County Family Ministries, what I imagined would grow from the donation of one cabbage, I could have never foreseen how much it would change my life.
I’m so blessed to be on this journey. I hope that by being named among 30 Under 30 it will show others that age is just a number, never an obstacle. You can do anything that you set your heart to.
Q) In 2015 there were 83 Katie’s Krops gardens growing across the United States. What are the current numbers for 2016? Did you ever expect the program would grow so quickly? Why do you think this program has grown to include so many gardens?
Katie Stagliano: I’m very proud to say in 2016 that Katie’s Krops has 100 youth run gardens growing in 32 states across the United States. I could have never imagined how big Katie’s Krops would become, and how many people we have been able to provide fresh produce to at no charge.
I wholeheartedly believe that if it were not for the incredible and supportive people I’ve met along the way, who have believed in me and my dream, Katie’s Krops would not be at the level it is today.
I have found amazing kids across the United States who are passionate about ending hunger in their communities. We’ve come together and created a family of Katie’s Krops Growers. Working together I believe we can grow a healthy end to hunger, one vegetable garden at a time.
It is with great pride that we announce our Founder, Katie has been named to the The University of California inaugural Global Food Initiative 30 Under 30 Awards. The awards recognize 30 young pioneers and innovators trailblazing to solve the global food crisis by making extraordinary contributions in a wide array of food-related fields.The awards recognize individuals both inside and outside the UC system who have made outstanding contributions to a wide array of food-related fields, including food production, food access and security, food sourcing, food education and communication, and food policy and public impact. The awards are organized and bestowed by University of California President Janet Napolitano and the UC Global Food Initiative. We are proud to say, Katie is the youngest of the 30 recipients. Congratulations Katie!
If you’re fortunate enough to not have to worry about where your next meal is coming from, you may not be able to relate to the hardships associated with hunger. Malnutrition is a very serious issue plaguing many communities throughout this country. Whether it's not having an adequate amount of food, or just a lack of healthy options, there are far too many people who suffer.
Tackling such an issue as hunger is not an individual effort, instead it takes more of a unified, collective approach. Together, The Turocy/ Pepin family is helping grow a healthy end to hunger.
Feeding the community truly is a family affair. Using their gardening skills, Ty Pepin, his wife, Lisa Turocy, and their son, Alexander, works closely with Katie's Krops.
Katie's Krops is an organization aimed at fighting hunger. Their mission is to start and maintain vegetable gardens of all sizes and donate the harvest to help feed those in need.
In 2008, for a school project, nine-year-old Katie Stagliano planted a single cabbage in her front yard; seven years later the idea has flourished into a movement. Katie’s Krops now consist of 83 gardens all across the country, all maintained by the local children of the community.
“I could not have grown Katie’s Krops without the help of the Turocy/ Pepin family,” said Katie. “They give with all their heart and have provided healthy food to thousands of people."
Lisa, who’s been an avid gardener since 1998, has been on hand to help Katie's Krops since the very beginning. As a Master Gardener, she uses her experience, as well as provides personal guidance, to assist the children in maintaining the gardens. Whether she is sharing tips or out there helping plant herself, Lisa's commitment has not wavered.
“I made the commitment to a little girl who had a dream, and that was important to me,” said Lisa. “It’s incredible that my training as a Master Gardener could in turn help someone else begin to make their dream a reality.”
While Lisa's knowledge of gardening is necessary, it is her husband's involvement behind the scenes that keeps the gardens functioning. From building a raised bed for the crops, to building the Katie’s Krops website, Ty’s do-it-all approach goes a long way toward fighting hunger.
Attempting to cure the sickness of hunger has truly been a family effort. For proof of that, look no further then future Master Gardener, Alexander. At just 5 years old, Alexander is no stranger to the garden. Ever since he could walk, he has been assisting his parents in the field. He is also an advocate for agriculture as he engages his classmates to assist with Katie’s Krops.
"I love working with Katie in the Katie Krops garden," said Alexander. "Katie's Krops is awesome," he added.
Being able to provide for those less fortunate while nurturing the future leaders of tomorrow is an opportunity that Lisa and Ty truly cherish.
“One of the greatest gifts we can give is to encourage that love of the environment and the world to our children,” said Ty.
The Turocy/ Pepin family proves that family volunteering is effective. With a collective effort anything is possible. A unified approach trumps a singular effort, and with the help of like minded individuals, there is no goal that is unattainable.
“For those who want to make a difference in their community, I would tell them that you can truly accomplish whatever you have set your sights on and that you can do anything no matter how young or old you are,” said Lisa. “Always believe in yourself and never give up.”
Video credit 7ate9 Entertainment. Copyright Disney Channel