Winter Volunteer of the Seasons

Veggie Grill

Hat’s off to VeggieGrill for their support of GrowingGreat!

Veggie Grill Co-Founder T.K. Pillan answers a few questions following their GrowingGreat Volunteer of the Season award:

· When and why did you first get involved with GrowingGreat?

We got involved with GrowingGreat back in 2009 (a little over a year after we opened our second Veggie Grill and first in the South Bay). We love to partner with local community groups whose vision aligns with ours, and GrowingGreat’s mission of inspiring healthy eating clearly aligns with our goal of making it simple and satisfying to eat wholesome foods.

· What do you like best about GG?

Before starting Veggie Grill, I did a lot of research on food, nutrition and healthy eating, and I was struck at how much I didn’t know. Having a graduate degree, I wondered why I was never taught about basic nutrition in all my schooling. GrowingGreat fills that void.

· In your eyes, what is the best part of the Veggie Grill & GrowingGreat partnership?

The best part is how natural the fit is. Everybody who is interested in helping GrowingGreat wants to promote mindful eating, and everybody who goes to Veggie Grill is eating mindfully, so I can’t think of a much better fit.

Veggie Grill volunteer Laura Lee!

Veggie Grill volunteer Laura Lee!

We interviewed our Program Volunteer of the Season Garden Coordinator Laura Lee, and her answers are inspiring! Read on:

· When and why did you first get involved with GrowingGreat?

I first got involved with GG in 2011. I had heard about a nutritional program that our school, Linwood Howe, might participate in, while I was attending a PTA meeting. I approached the principal and asked her if I could research bringing a nutritional program to our school. That was when she informed me that Culver City had just received a grant to work with GG. I got my feet wet the first year, teaching the lessons to the 3rd graders. I have since moved on to teaching 3rd-5th graders. This past summer, I met with different landscapers and with the support of the Culver City Education Foundation, was able to get our garden area irrigated with drip irrigation. I worked closely with Leslie Adler at the CCEF during this process and we chose Mike Garcia from Enviroscape to install our irrigation. Mike did an amazing job and he was able to install everything in time for us to plant our first garden this past October. All the grades (K-5) just enjoyed their first harvest, complete with salad parties and a farmer’s market!

• Why do you volunteer for GG?

I have friends and family members who have been affected by depression, obesity and eating disorders. Getting to teach children at this young age, that food is fuel, what kind of fuel their bodies need, how to educate and empower themselves and be good to their bodies now, can prevent so many of these things from ever happening to them. To think that some of these issues could be prevented, by teaching them and educating them now, that what we put in our bodies can affect every area of our life, fuels my passion for a program like GG.

· What do you like best about GG?

I like everything about GG. I truly appreciate the work and effort they put in to bring the message of health and nutrition to schools. The lessons are fun and the kids really get involved. I love that they start from the beginning, from planting their own vegetables, to harvest, to the nutrition component. By being involved in each step of the process, the kids get a clear idea of where our food comes from, what’s in it, and why it’s so important for them to make good choices about what they put in their bodies. In some cases, we are really introducing them to what real food looks and taste like.

• What have you learned from GG and how have you incorporated it into your life/home?

I have learned that kids really are more prone to try new foods when they are involved in the process. Also, not to give up offering them healthy options. At home, even if my kids don’t think they like something, I still offer it and eventually, they try it..I have three young boys, so at dinner, with crunchy veggies, we compete to see who can make the loudest crunch! It may not make the best table manners, but right now, at this stage, it works for us!

• Do you have an inspirational story from working in the classroom/garden with GG?

Probably my favorite lesson or moment from last year, was when the kids got to help me make the salad. Typically, if you ask most kids if they want salad, their first reaction is no, but helping me make the salad, pressing the garlic for the dressing, adding the oil, juicing the lemon, adding all of the ingredients, mixing the sunflower seeds into the salad, buttering the bread. By being a part of each step in the process, they were so excited when it was ready and couldn’t wait to taste the salad! Now, with the kids planting their own veggies, their enthusiasm is even greater. They picked their own lettuce this time and we washed and prepared everything together. To their surprise and mine, most of them wanted seconds and even thirds! It’s exciting to know that that could have been a defining moment for them in how they will continue to experience food and healthy choices as they grow up.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *