Celebrating Ten Years of Katie’s Krops Garden-To-Table Dinners

I was in the sixth grade when it all began. My mom and I pulled up to The Palmetto House, our town’s only homeless shelter and full-time soup kitchen. We had made countless visits to the shelter to deliver produce from our gardens to support their efforts. This time a small group greeted us with somber faces gathered around a locked front door with a handwritten sign on the front door informing visitors that The Palmetto House was closed permanently. My heart sank.

It was at that moment that I knew I had to find a solution, a way to provide healthy free meals to individuals struggling with food insecurity in my hometown. We started the Katie’s Krops Garden-to-Table Dinner, a youth-based initiative to have children grow fruits and vegetables and use the harvest to create healthy meals to share with the community.

The Katie’s Krops Dinners quickly became one of my favorite parts of the work I was doing. The guests became my second family. We shared joy and heartache. Births and, sadly, deaths as well. We rejoiced in graduations and new jobs. It has been an incredible ten years, and I am so incredibly proud of what we have created.

On Thursday, October 29th, we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Katie’s Krops Dinner. This will be a celebration, unlike any before. With COVID still ever-present in our lives, we will host a ‘Drive-Thru Celebration.’ We are working to make this event extra unique and would love your support.

We are seeking the following sponsors:

~ A Beverage Sponsor- $450 or beverages for 650 guests

~A Soup Sponsor- $300 for us to make and share 150 to 200 containers of delicious garden fresh soup.

~A Dessert Sponsor- $300

~A Gift Bag Sponsor- $400 to support a giveaway for each family

If you would like to support our efforts please contact Katie@KatiesKrops.com. Here is to another ten amazing years!

The phone call that helped us feed over 1,000 people

I want to share the very best story that shows the power of how one person, one phone call, can make a huge difference. Ms. Barb has been an avid couponer and Katie’s Krops supporter for as long as I can remember. During the pandemic, she and her husband have helped us tremendously.

A few weeks ago, she called Barilla and asked if they would be willing to share a few coupons for her to purchase some of the items we need to continue serving our weekly to-go dinners. After having a conversation about our efforts to feed our community in the wake of COVID-19, they agreed to help. Barilla sent coupons for 200 boxes of pasta and 200 jars of their amazing Vero Gusto sauce made in Parma, Italy. The coupons were not for 50 cents off or even a dollar. The coupons were for the FULL PRICE of the products make the 400 items FREE!

Last night we hosted our first Barilla dinner and fed 400 people. Words cannot express how grateful I am to Barb Janney and Barilla. Every week I think, how much longer will we be able to host a weekly dinner, and every week we are blessed by a wonderful supporter. So is there anyone else out there wants to call one of their favorite companies 😉

A grand adventure to say ‘Thank You’ to those who have stepped up to serve in difficult times

I have been on a grand adventure to spread cheer and gratitude in the past few weeks thanks to the Beekman 1802 Boys.

When the world shut down my plans to visit the Beekman Farm this month to grow and expand the Katie’s Krops mission to their community came to a halt. Although the trip was put on hold, they generously shared their amazing products with me, so I decided, with their help, I was going to thank those in my community who stepped up to serve while the world shut down. It has been a fantastic couple of weeks sharing Beekman 1802 lotion, spring body wash, and goat milk makeup wipes. From our Katie’s Krops volunteers to essential workers at the post office and grocery store, teachers, to those keeping our homeless shelters and food pantries running, to people who shared their stimulus checks with us to fund a Katie’s Krops to-go Dinners, I thanked them and let them know how much they are appreciated. The best part, I am not done yet! I have had the best time spreading cheer in these challenging times! We could all use a few extra smiles these days.

Thank you to my new friends at Beekman 1802! If you have not tried their amazing products yet, you have no idea what you are missing! Be sure to visit their website and learn about their story and what they have done to cultivate a beautiful life and product line. https://beekman1802.com/

Crops For Change: Volunteers Grow Gardens Nationwide To Feed Hungry Families Amidst Coronavirus

DAILY POINT OF LIGHT # 6780 | MAY 20, 2020 |

The average grocery store cabbage weighs a couple of pounds. So when Katie Stagliano grew a 40-pound cabbage in her home garden as a 3rd grader, she knew she had to share the bountiful crop. 275 people fed later at a local soup kitchen, the now 21-year-old Summerville, South Carolina resident says she realized the power of her harvest.

“I brought home this cabbage seedling as part of a school project, and planted it in our backyard, watering and weeding around it every day. Once it grew into a 40-pound cabbage, we knew it was far too big for just my family. It really opened my eyes to hunger. If one cabbage can feed 275 people, imagine how many people an entire garden could feed. That was the inspiration for my volunteerism. I wanted to help feed people in need.”

Launching Katie’s Krops in 2008 with the idea that “it only takes a seedling”, Katie, who serves as founder and chief executive gardener, has inspired hundreds of other gardeners, growing to include vegetable gardens of all sizes in 30 states across the country. Katie’s Krops “Growers”, aged 9-16 from California to Washington to Texas, run gardens in their backyards, school yards, and anywhere they can get permission to grow produce, their healthy harvests donated to help food insecure individuals and families. In total, Katie says 250,000-pounds of produce have been donated since 2008, not just feeding hungry mouths, but also changing the future for thousands of people in the U.S., says Katie’s Krops Grower Ian McKenna, a 15-year-old volunteer from Austin, Texas.

“Katie’s Krops has helped many, many, many people. I’ve grown thousands of pounds of produce to donate to people who are struggling with food insecurity. The food I am bringing them helps in more ways than just feeding them. If a kid receives our food, it helps them with school because I know if I’m at school and I haven’t eaten for awhile, I have trouble focusing. That, by extension, is helping their future.”

Katie Stagliano Daily Point of Light Award Honoree
AS A THIRD-GRADER, KATIE STAGLIANO GREW A 40-POUND CABBAGE IN HER HOME GARDEN, HER DREAM OF GROWING A HEALTHY END TO HUNGER, ONE VEGETABLE GARDEN AT A TIME, STARTING WITH JUST ONE SEEDLING. /COURTESY KATIE STAGLIANO
Feeding some of the more than one in ten U.S. households that experienced food insecurity in 2018 with fresh vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, eggplant, okra and more, Katie says that her dream of growing a healthy end to hunger, one vegetable garden at a time, is slowly becoming a reality.

“When I first began this service, I wasn’t really aware of the issue of hunger, food insecurity and how it affects families. People who have lost their jobs are dealing with medical bills and are worried about putting food on the table. (Katie’s Krops) has opened up my eyes to not only the problems the world is facing but also the amazing people who are passionate about making a difference and the changes we are able to make.”

Those changes are far reaching and yet personal for Katie, who is able to interact with recipients of her fresh vegetables.

Katie Stagliano Daily Point of Light Award Honoree
KATIE’S KROPS IS CONTINUING TO SERVE HUNGRY FAMILIES DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, DISTRIBUTING 2,000 HEALTHY MEALS THUS FAR THROUGH WEEKLY DRIVE-UPS./COURTESY KATIE STAGLIANO

“I met a little girl at an event we hosted at a vacation bible school. The little girl raised her hand and said she didn’t have any questions for me, she just wanted to tell me that I was awesome. She walked up to me with a sticker that said “love” on it, and she gave me a hug and put the sticker on my heart. After all the kids left the room one of the counselors explained to me that the vegetables I’d brought for the event to help feed a homeless family were given to that little girl’s family. The family had been struggling to put food on the table. It’s heartbreaking to see that families just like mine have fallen on hard times and I know the solution starts with just one seedling to start helping these people.”

And now, as she continues her work to end hunger, Katie is adjusting her organization’s offerings to make sure hungry families can still receive food amidst the coronavirus pandemic, swapping what used to be a monthly garden to table dinner for weekly drive-up dinners for her community.

“Since in-person dinners are no longer possible, we are now doing weekly drive-up dinners every Thursday. For the past two months, we’ve been creating the meals and boxing them up for distribution to families in South Carolina. There are so many individuals out of work and out of school and struggling, so we want to be there for them. We’ve been trying to do fun and different meals while also keeping everyone’s meals healthy to keep everyone’s immune systems up. We’ve served two-thousand meals thus far and we will continue doing this for as long as it’s necessary.”

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Katie Stagliano? Find local volunteer opportunities.

Contest Time! Expand Your Garden Library

Congratulations to our winners Hilary & Brandon! We hope to offer more contests in the future.

Contest Time!

Expand Your Garden Library

Looking for fun and inspirational reading in these challenging times? Enter to win a signed copy of Katie’s award-winning children’s book ‘Katie’s Cabbage’ and a copy of Joanna Gaines ‘We Are The Gardeners’. Two people will win copies of both books to expand their garden library. To enter simply complete the entry form below. All entries must be received by midnight on May 2nd. Good luck & stay safe!



    Finding My Peace through Service

    ‘For three hours tonight, I was happy. I was not anxious. I was not worried. I almost completely forgot that we are living in a world where we face a pandemic. I completely lost myself in service. I was with my chosen family, the people I love and care about. I completely forgot about our new reality. Yes, we worked with a skeleton crew to serve 250 meals, and we passed meals through car windows, but the love was still there, perhaps more than it has ever been.’

    Like everyone around the world, my life has been turned upside down. I have worked very hard to graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree in three years. My senior year was going to be amazing. I had the most adorable apartment, a job as a nanny for a family I loved; I was enrolled in the most amazing classes on the campus of the most beautiful college in the United States. Well, my year didn’t start off as planned. A lengthy illness made my first semester difficult. As the new year kicked off, I was excited for a fun last semester, but a car accident in January side-tracked me for several weeks. Things were back on track as I had just ordered my graduation dress, had lined up many trips to grow Katie’s Krops, and my classes were going great.

    As I write this, I am home with my family in quarantine. I only leave the house to feed my community by preparing and distributing weekly meals, working in the gardens, and making deliveries to families in need. Is this the senior year I imagined? No, I don’t think any of us fathomed how the world would change in the past few weeks, month. What I do know is that I have found a deep sense of peace as I have thrown myself into service. A smile on the face of a long-time Katie’s Krops dinner guest pulling up to receive a to-go meal on Thursdays brings joy I could have never imagined. Planting seedlings in a garden brings me peace. Sending seeds off to kids across the country fills me with hope. When everything is out of control I have grounded myself, by serving my community and my country.

    I know things will get worse before they get better. I also know that small acts of kindness are magnified in this new world. We can get through this if we come together to serve and be kind to one another. We are all in this together. Stay safe, everyone.

    A Dream Come True

    Five years ago I made a decision that forever changed the course of Katie’s Krops. That decision was to offer grants to other kids across the country to start Katie’s Krops gardens. I was only 12-years-old and filled with doubts. Would anyone apply for a grant? Did other kids truly share my passion for growing an end to hunger?

    Putting my doubts aside, we moved forward with launching the first Katie’s Krops grant cycle. The results were truly surprising. Over 200 applications were submitted for the very first Katie’s Krops grant cycle. Selecting the recipients proved to be the biggest challenge. I poured over the 200 plus applications, reading and reviewing each and everyone. One stood out among the rest, a class of third grade students in Watkinsville, Georgia. I selected Mrs. McGrath’s third grade class as one of our very first growers and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!

    Fast forward five years.  I finally had the honor of visiting one of our longest standing gardens in Watkinsville, Georgia. You see, with over 80 plus gardens growing across the country it is impossible to visit even a small fraction of the gardens that bear the Katie’s Krops name.

    The moment I walked into the classroom the energy was electric. The students greeted me with open arms, eager to share the gardens. Yes gardens, plural. With every year, with every third grade class that passes through Mrs. McGrath’s classroom their garden grows and expands!

    The door leading out of the classroom into their garden is paved with ‘Gardening with a Purpose’, a sign of what these students do each and every day. You are welcomed into a garden filled with raised beds filled with vegetables. A beautiful garden mural adorns one wall. Fig trees and even a greenhouse constructed from recycled windows complete the garden. This is the garden that was constructed the very first year that the students started growing with Katie’s Krops.

    Next the students guided me to a chicken coop filled with fresh eggs and chickens racing around. This is year two with Katie’s Krops. A walk to a beautifully fenced in-garden wrapped with fragrant flowers brought us to year three. Inside the fence, hand painted stepping stones led us down a path  to a lush garden filled with berry bushes, raised beds, flowers and vegetables. The pride these students had for their work was amazing. Lastly, we explored year four, the fruit orchard.

    Words on a page do not do the gardens justice. How can I express just how proud I am of these students? How can I express how grateful I am to Mrs. McGrath? She is the driving force behind these students. She is the amazing woman who spends her in-school, out-of-school and summer hours growing my dream. How can I express how proud I am to have my name associated with this garden? There simply are not words to do so.


    To that 12-year-old girl who was filled with doubts about who would apply for a grant, who would share the dream to grow and end hunger, in five years you will walk into the most amazing garden and realize dreams do come true! To Mrs. McGrath’s students in Watkinsville, Georgia, I can’t wait to see what happens in year five! 

    What is a Katie’s Krops Dinner, Celebrating 5 amazing years!

    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!

     

    A Guest Blog from Our Grower Josie

     

         My name is Josie and I am lucky to be a Katie Krops Grower in more ways than I could have ever imagined!

         I have always loved to be outside and gardening with my family. While my Dad was listening to the “In the Garden with Ron Wilson” radio show, he heard the story about Katie Stagliano. Katie was helping people in need by growing vegetable gardens and donating the produce to help feed her community. He knew that this would be something that I would love to do. Little did I know that it would end up helping me as much as helping others!

         My Grandpa was also really excited to hear about Katie Krops and could not wait to start his own Katie Krops Garden with me at his house…the gardens were literally starting to grow! With our three raised beds and his raised bed we had four Katie Krops Gardens to grow. Everyone was excited to get our crops growing so we could start donating to the Mid-Ohio Food bank! My Dad has always loved to start seeds indoors, my Grandpa had his heirloom tomato seeds ready to go, and my Mom, Anna (my sister), and my Grandma were all pitching in to get the gardens ready to plant. I learned so much from my Grandpa and Dad from how to plan out a garden to gathering seeds.

         My first donation was fresh lettuce, onions, and radishes. The lady who took my donation said, “Our first fresh out of the garden donation of the season….someone is going to love having this on their table tonight! Most of our families don’t get food this fresh.” It was hard for me to think about how many people in my community could not afford to buy fresh food. On our table there was always a fresh veggie to eat. Even in the winter, I was fortunate that we could still buy fruit and veggies from our grocery. I was so excited about knowing that I helped give someone fresh food that they would not have had. Our garden made this possible. Throughout the summer, we donated tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, banana peppers, corn, and zucchini. This summer, we added strawberries, beans, snow-peas, eggplant, broccoli, and cauliflower.

         I was 12 when I started my first Katie Krops Gardens and now, being 14, I want a career that I love and that means a career were I am helping others. Being a Katie Krops Grower gave me an inside peek as to how it truly feels to give back. Donating is so rewarding. But even more than that, it is knowing that the hard work and having family and friends come together to help each other for a cause could not only change what is put on a hungry family’s dinner table, but that it could also shape my future.

         When I found out that I was selected to attend the Katie Krops Camp, I was sooooo excited!! This was a chance for me to learn more about how I could help my community with hunger and meet other growers and Katie! Since my Grandpa and Dad have been my gardening mentors, one of them would get to come with me. My Grandpa won out! We were off to South Carolina! It was hard work, but it was amazing and fun. In one and a half days, we built community gardens, hosted a dinner for the community after picking and cooking the food to be served, and worked in the gardens. We learned so much from the W.P. Rawls family. My Grandpa, usually a quiet guy, was taking non- stop with the Rawls family about gardening techniques! He was having the best time! I was glad that he was having fun as a camper too! Being around other young people who wanted to make a difference in their world was exciting! It made me want to work harder and do more…I loved that!

         When we got back from the camp, we decided that we were going to build a couple of bean tee-pees and also grow strawberries using the Thomas Jefferson garden ideas that W.P. Rawls taught us. We were both excited to get back to our gardens! This trip was wonderful in so many ways, but the best part was getting to spend that experience with my Grandpa.

         As I continue to be a grower for Katie’s Krops, I am rewarded in so many other ways than knowing that I am helping others and just growing a garden. Gardening has brought me closer to my family and my community, and it has also taught me a lot about myself and that makes me happy!

         Thanks Dad, for listening to radio shows about gardening!

    Josie