Katie Stagliano: She’s Cultivating a Solution to Hunger

April 6 - On The Dot

FIRST THOUGHT: Growing Pains

I desperately want a green thumb. While I don’t have a completely useless thumb, I can’t tell you how many of those so-called “easiest houseplants to maintain” I’ve unwittingly slayed. On Instagram, I see gardeners and growers of lush roses and enchanting succulents, while all I have is my drab, nearly dead cactus. I thought it would be hard to kill. Not for me! But for some reason, I plant the bulbs, water the soil and hope for the best. I guess I’ll just keep trying. After all, with a little persistence, I may stop planting the seeds of doubt and actually get something to grow!

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: More Than 13 Million

Speaking of growing things, there are plenty of kids in the U.S. who, during the most important physical growth of their lives, face dire circumstances on a daily basis. In fact, more than 13 million American kids go to school hungry every day, with one in five lacking regular access to enough food. This tragic situation means many children—the future of our country—attempt to grow and learn new information on empty tummies.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Katie Stagliano, Founder and Chief Executive Gardener of Katie's Krops

Today’s impressive Woman to Watch, Katie Stagliano, is doing her part to help solve the hunger problem in America, and she’s been utilizing her amazing green thumb to cultivate a solution since she was in third grade! Yep, you heard that right. Katie has been a hands-on hunger annihilator since she was just 9 years old.

In 2008, when other girls her age were playing with dolls and skipping rope, Katie was growing her hunger-battling crusade. It started when she brought home a teensy cabbage seedling as part of a Bonnie Plants program at her school in South Carolina. Though it sounds like an adorable gardening project, Katie took it completely seriously.

Thanks to Katie’s nurturing, the dense-leaved veggie grew to an amazing 40 pounds. With the desire to share this special edible with others, she donated the massive cabbage to a local soup kitchen and saw firsthand that it helped feed nearly 300 hungry people. Katie also witnessed how beneficial fresh produce could be to an organization like a soup kitchen, which has limited resources, so she grabbed her trowel and rake and got started making an even bigger impact.

Katie turned that initial experience into a bona fide giving enterprise. The organization, Katie’s Krops, is now responsible for developing 100 gardens across the United States and has donated thousands of pounds of fresh produce to those most in need.

Understanding the skill and determination kids can have, Katie isn’t just about harvesting crops for the hungry. She also wants to empower kids to get their hands a little dirty by cultivating a garden of their own.

Katie’s efforts to grow her remarkable nonprofit made her the youngest person ever to receive the Clinton Global Citizen Award for Leadership in Civil Society. And in 2014, she was endowed with the Prudential Spirit of Community Award based on her outstanding achievements in community service.

One reason Katie felt emboldened to start her growing project is because of the wonderful encouragement from her family. Now, as an adult, she’s encouraging kids in a number of ways, including through a delightfully illustrated book called Katie’s Cabbage.

Katie says vegetable gardening is anything but a quick process. Her motivation remains in feeding those most in need. She’s definitely doing just that. And to think, it all started with a little cabbage seedling.


Katie Stagliano would no doubt agree with this quote from American poet May Sarton, who said:

“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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