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Jun 18, 2018 • By

Feeding Better Futures Scholars Program grand prize winner

General Mills launched the first-ever General Mills Feeding Better Futures Scholars Program in January, encouraging young leaders to share their in-action hunger relief and sustainable agriculture solutions.

We selected our five finalists last month – each of whom launched programs in their community to help tackle some of the macro-societal issues that face our nation.

And the grand prize winner is …

Katie Stagliano, of Katie’s Krops.

She is the organization’s founder and chief executive gardener. Katie’s Krops is a nonprofit that empowers kids across the U.S. to grow fresh produce locally to fight hunger in their communities.

Last week, we surprised Stagliano in Charleston, South Carolina, with the announcement, just in time for the 10-year anniversary of her heroic organization. See Stagliano’s reaction, in this video.

As Stagliano prepared to serve those in need at Tricountry Family Ministry, the place that inspired her to start Katie’s Krops, we prepared to give her a surprise of a lifetime – $50,000 to help further her hunger relief initiatives and an invitation to the upcoming Aspen Ideas Festival to share her journey in the fight against hunger.

Meet the girl with 100 Gardens

Stagliano’s journey to make a dent in world hunger started at just nine years old after she grew a 40-pound cabbage in May 2008.

She donated the cabbage to a nearby homeless shelter, Tricounty Family Ministry, helping to feed 275 people in need.

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The oversized cabbage, when Stagliano was nine years old.

After seeing the impact that one – though oversized – vegetable had, Katie asked the headmaster at Pinewood Preparatory School, where she was a student at the time, if she could start a vegetable garden at the school to help more people in need.

She was granted a plot of land the size of a football field and enlisted other students to help maintain, harvest and donate the produce to homeless shelters, soup kitchens and families. Shortly after, Katie’s Krops was born.

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(From left to right) Stacy Stagliano, Katie Stagliano and Sue Hanshaw watch a surprise video from General Mills chief executive officer, Jeff Harmening, announcing Katie as the grand prize winner.

Stagliano saw the impact that her single garden had and realized other kids just like her could do the same – she just needed to plant the seed to help her idea grow. So, she began raising money and issued growers grants to other kids to get their gardens off the ground.

Today, there are approximately 100 Katie’s Krops gardens growing in schools and communities across the U.S., including cities like Austin, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; and in New York.

The growers? Youth who are nine to 16 years old, turning unused land into vegetable gardens to feed those in need.

Last year alone, these kids donated more than 39,000 pounds of food to soup kitchens, shelters and food banks. If that’s not impressive enough, over the last seven years, these growers engaged their communities and friends to help, serving more than 17,000 meals with healthy produce from their gardens.

Working together to reduce the hunger gap

If Stagliano and our four inspiring Feeding Better Futures Scholars Program finalists have taught us anything, it’s that great ideas and change can come at any age.

While Stagliano was already doing great things with her own garden in Charleston, she didn’t stop there. Stagliano saw the power of together to drive greater good – a vision we shared when launching Feeding Better Futures.

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We’ve seen time after time that small steps lead to big ideas and even bigger impact, and we can’t wait to see how Katie’s Krops continues to blossom.

Visit FeedingBetterFutures.com for more information about the General Mills Feeding Better Futures Scholars Program.