Daily Dispatches
Katie Stagliano
Courtesy photo
Katie Stagliano

Teen's feeding ministry started from a tiny seedling

No Little People

In his book No Little People, Francis Schaeffer wrote that “in God's sight there are no little people and no little places. Only one thing is important: to be consecrated persons in God's place for us, at each moment.” For four years during the 1990s WORLD annually ran a set of features with specific examples of Christians who were doing God-glorifying things out of love and obedience but without recognition. We continue that tradition in this new series on people who glorify God by serving others without getting any money or publicity in the process. —Marvin Olasky

In 2008, 9-year-old Katie Stagliano brought home a seedling from school as part of a Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program. Her cabbage thrived in fertile soil, sunshine, and water. Katie kept the soil loose around her seedling, pulled out weeds that would keep it from growing, and built a fence around the cabbage with her grandfather’s help.

At harvest time, the cabbage weighed 40 pounds and an idea sprouted: With this vegetable, she could help others. So her mom called Fields to Families, a local organization in Summerville, S.C., that helps farmers donate surplus crops to feed hungry people. They directed her to a local soup kitchen where Katie watched her cabbage help feed 275 people.

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The soup kitchen later closed its doors, but each month for two years Summerville Baptist Church has held a Katie’s Krops Dinner for anyone in the community who needs a free meal. At the November dinner, one of the biggest she’s seen, Katie said, people began arriving 30 minutes early and filling up the church fellowship hall. In the kitchen, Katie’s school friends from Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville, her school’s food services director, and a few adults bustled around setting up the serving line for the families, elderly people, and homeless people who would be receiving a balanced meal (not just vegetables) that night.

Much of the produce served at the dinner comes from a plot of land her school set aside for Katie’s Krops and from seven other Katie’s Krops gardens in the area. Bonnie Plants donates seedlings, and students from the school help tend and harvest the vegetables.

At Katie’s request, Fields for Families offered a master gardener, Lisa Turocy, to work with her. “She’s been with us three years now, and she comes to the dinners," Katie said. “She thought, ‘Oh, there’s this little girl who has a garden and wants to feed people.’ I don’t think she realized it would grow this big. I don’t think anyone did.”

Katie’s Krops now has more than 60 youth-run gardens in 26 states from Maine to Hawaii. She says the gardens have donated thousands of pounds of fresh produce to feed people in need. Her goal is to inspire young people to start gardens in all 50 states. Katie’s Krops offers grants and scholarships to help get them started and a Katie’s Krops camp to learn more about agriculture and giving back to their community.

Last year Katie was one of seven recipients of the Clinton Global Initiative Award for her work as a “social entrepreneur on pace to take my job before she turns 16,” the former president said.

Katie, now 15, credits support from her parents for the success of Katie’s Krops. “They don’t force [my brother and me] to do things for people, but when we get inspired about something, they are very supportive,” Katie said. “They never say, ‘That won’t work,’ so we try it and they have our backs.”

And it all started with that huge cabbage five years ago that taught Katie she could help people, no matter how young she was. Her mother, Stacy, watched as her little seedling grew. “We believe that Katie's cabbage was a gift from God to lead her down this path,” she said. 

Dick Peterson
Dick Peterson

Dick lives in Summerville, S.C., is a former newspaper reporter and editor, and is now a freelance writer and caregiver for his wife with multiple sclerosis.

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