19-year-old from Summerville, S.C., wins $50,000 to further her hunger relief initiative
General Mills has announced Katie Stagliano, founder of Katie’s Krops, as the grand prize winner of the inaugural General Mills Feeding Better Futures Scholars Program, an initiative encouraging young people to share their in-action hunger relief and sustainable agriculture solutions for a chance to win $50,000, industry mentorship and exposure at the prestigious Aspen Ideas Festival.
Jeff Harmening, CEO and chairman of General Mills, surprised Stagliano with a remote announcement at Tricounty Family Ministries food pantry — the place that inspired her to start Katie’s Krops at just nine-years-old — as she celebrated the non-profit’s ten-year anniversary.
“I’m so excited and grateful that a global company like General Mills believes in people my age and is supporting programs like Katie’s Krops, so we can make an even bigger impact,” said Stagliano. “I want Katie’s Krops and all the growers across the nation to see that when we work together, we can make a difference in the fight against hunger.”
Stagliano founded Katie’s Krops in 2008, after a school gardening project led her to grow a 40-pound cabbage. Katie donated that cabbage to Tricounty Family Ministries and was astonished to find that her one cabbage fed 275 people. Determined to make a dent in the fight against hunger, she decided to see how many people one garden could feed. She worked to secure a plot of land and created Katie’s Krops, a garden dedicated to growing fresh produce and donating the harvest to those in need. After much success in her own community, she began raising money to offer grants to kids across the country who could follow her lead. The idea took off and, before Katie even had her driver’s license, she had started a movement.
“We are inspired by today’s youth and their passion for making positive changes in our world by leading with action,” said Harmening. “As a global food leader concerned about hunger and our ability to feed future generations, General Mills is honored to offer resources and a platform to help expand their impact.”
There are approximately 100 Katie’s Krops gardens growing in schools and communities across the country, including cities like Austin, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. Last year alone, more than 39,000 pounds of food was donated to soup kitchens, shelters and food banks. Over the last seven years, young volunteers have prepared and served more than 17,000 meals using healthy produce grown in these gardens.
The remaining four finalists of the General Mills Feeding Better Futures Scholars Program will each receive $10,000 to help further their hunger relief and sustainable agriculture programs. Each finalist is making a difference in their community with their forward-thinking initiatives, including:
- Jack Griffin, FoodFinder: Jack developed an app that connects families with local food pantries. To date, the app has cataloged over 25,000 food pantries in all 50 states.
- Joy Youwakim, Produce Grown on top of a Landfill: Joy created a solution to use vacant landfill space to grow quality, nutritious produce.
- Kate Indreland, Regenerative Agriculture: Kate worked diligently on her own ranch to develop new processes to enrich soil health, helping to improve food quality.
- Braeden Mannering, 3B Brae’s Brown Bags: Braeden’s program provides homeless and low-income populations access to healthy food and clean water through brown bag donations. He also seeks to empower other young people and has activated over 3,600 volunteers across the country.
For years, General Mills has been a leader in promoting environmentally and socially responsible practices across their supply chain, as well as providing resources to food insecure communities. Some of the ways the company has done so include:
- Committing to sustainably source all 10 of the company’s priority ingredients by 2020. Today, General Mills is 76 percent of the way there.
- Partnering with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to restore and protect pollinator habitat across hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland in North America.
- Serving as a founding partner of Feeding America, the Global Foodbanking Network and Partners in Food Solutions, and enabling more than 200 million meals through food donations globally since 2010.
- Partnering with Gunsmoke Farms LLC to convert 34,000 acres of conventional farmland in South Dakota to certified organic acreage by 2020.
Stagliano will join General Mills at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival, a public forum where leaders from around the globe engage in deep discussion around the issues impacting our lives most today. At the Festival, Stagliano will have the opportunity to present details about Katie’s Krops with an esteemed audience of young leaders. General Mills is an underwriter of the Festival, where they will help lead the discussion on the importance of finding solutions today to feed a better tomorrow.