Katie’s Krops: One Child’s Huge Impact on Feeding the Hungry
Aug 01, 2016 11:12AM
● By Michelle Bense
In the third grade, 9-year-old Katie Stagliano brought home an unassuming, tiny cabbage seedling that would grow into a 40-pound cabbage—and a few years later, would create a nonprofit organization helping kids across the U.S. grow gardens supporting the hungry. Now 17 years old, Stagliano is the founder and Chief Executive Gardener of Katie’s Krops, and she’s not slowing down in her crusade to feed as many hungry people as possible.
“My dad had always told me not to waste and how lucky my brother and I were to have a healthy meal on the table each night, because there were people who went to bed hungry and relied on soup kitchens for what could be their only meal of the day,” recalls Stagliano. She decided to donate her cabbage to a local soup kitchen, Tricounty Family Ministries, in North Charleston, South Carolina, where the produce helped feed 275 people. Seeing this impact, Stagliano wondered how many people a whole garden could feed, and the seed for Katie’s Krops was planted.
Katie’s Krops provides young gardeners with the knowledge, supplies and funding to start their own gardens, with the promise that they will donate all produce to their local soup kitchens and shelters. In 2015, there were 83 Katie’s Krops youth gardens growing across the U.S., all providing much needed healthy food to those in need.
The mission to feed America’s hungry is a family affair. Stagliano’s mother is president of Katie’s Krops, her father manages finances and her brother is an active volunteer, helping with garden-to-table dinners and in the gardens. “Without their support and encouragement no matter the circumstances, I know that Katie’s Krops would not be where it is today,” says Stagliano. “My community has supported me in amazing ways. I’m so blessed to live in a community who stands behind my dream and is very supportive of it.”
Along the way, she has faced fears, doubts and obstacles, but Stagliano continues making a difference in both local and national communities by keeping a cool head. “I’ve found the best way to overcome the struggles was to focus on the positives and the things that are going right, instead of stressing over things that often times you cannot control,” says the wise-beyond-her-years teenager.
Always aiming higher, Stagliano hopes to expand Katie’s Krops to 500 gardens in all 50 states, before going global. Her advice to other kids with big ideas? “Age should never be considered an obstacle. If you follow your heart and a cause you truly believe in, you can make an incredible difference in the world,” enthuses Stagliano. “And you never know what can grow from something as small as just one seedling.”
Michelle Bense is a freelance writer and editor based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Connect with her at [email protected]