Purple Asparagus believes in educating children, families, and the community about creating eating habits that are good for the body and the planet. Their programs focus on bringing hands-on learning activities to schools, community organization and farmers’ markets to teach participants throughout Chicagoland about delicious, nutritious eating. These activities aim to teach children and families about new fruits, vegetables and whole grains, to make food prep fun, to teach practical skills in the kitchen, and to promote the sourcing of locally grown foods.
Food Tank had the opportunity to speak with Melissa Graham, Founding Executive Director at Purple Asparagus.
Food Tank (FT): How do you contribute to creating a better food system?
Melissa Graham (MG): Purple Asparagus is leading the charge to tackle global health issues right here in Chicago by bringing healthy foods and recipes directly to public schools in Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods. Through our flagship program, “ Delicious Nutritious Adventures,” children learn from an early age how healthy eating can make a positive impact on their futures. In fact, according to a study conducted by the University of Chicago, 66 percent of parents said that Purple Asparagus had inspired them to try new recipes and more than half agreed that their child eats more fruits.
FT: What is a project, program, or result you are most proud of? Please explain.
MG: We are most proud of our flagship program "Delicious Nutritious Adventures”, which not only has demonstrated results as established by the study done by University of Chicago, but has also proven to be a ton of fun. It's helping us achieve our vision to inspire in all children a life-long love of delicious, nutritious foods.
FT: What are your goals for 2015 and beyond?
Our goal this year is to continue to grow. Currently, we're developing a strategic plan to determine the best ways to smartly grow our programming to deepen our impact both here in Chicago and in the global community.
FT: In one sentence, what is the most important thing eaters and consumers can do today to support a more sustainable food system?
MG: Early involvement and education for children is of key importance to creating demand for sustainable food in the future. Exposing children to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that are healthy for their bodies and the planet mean we can cultivate a generation that will support a sustainable food system in the future.
FT: How can individuals become more involved in your organization?
MG: Individuals can donate their time or treasure in a number of ways. We are always in need of volunteers to serve as assistants in the classroom for our Delicious Nutritious Adventures program by preparing food and assisting children with their recipes. Individuals can also attend our Corks and Crayons fundraiser each August, which features a wide variety of food, drink and family-friendly activities, along with a silent auction. Corporations can donate funds directly to the program or make a contribution to our Corks and Crayons fundraiser. We are also always accepting financial gifts to support our programs.
Download the 2014 Good Food Org Guide HERE.
Submit your suggestions for the 2015 guide HERE.