Katie Stagliano - Summerville, South Carolina

Katie is a hard working 14-year-old from Summerville, South Carolina. She is the Founder and CEG (Chief Executive Gardener) of Katie's Krops, her not-for-profit organization. She works tirelessly to feed those most in need by starting vegetable gardens and donating the produce to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and directly to the needy through Katie's Krops. Katie has been focused on supplying the hungry with healthy, nutritious meals for more than five years now.

In September of 2012 Katie became the youngest recipient ever of the Clinton Global Citizen Award for Leadership in Civil Society. The Clinton Global Citizen Award recognizes individuals from various sectors who demonstrate visionary leadership in addressing global challenges. “The work being done by this year’s honorees is nothing short of extraordinary,” said President Clinton. “Tonight I’m proud to honor two Ugandans who risk their lives to secure basic human dignities many of us take for granted, three leaders whose contributions have positively impacted communities across the Caribbean and Latin America, and a social entrepreneur on pace to take my job before she turns 16. These are some truly amazing folks.”

As a Youth Advisor Board member, Katie has helped kids understand how fun and easy growing one’s own fruits and vegetables can be and how gardening can be an important step in taking control of what one puts in his or her body. Katie’s achievements have taken the form of a Sodexo grant to further her projects, securing donations of seeds and soil to sustain her current gardens and helping others start new gardens.

What motivated you to join the Youth Advisory Board?

As I expanded Katie's Krops nationally I heard from kids all over the country who were telling me that they wanted to get involved with providing healthy food to those in need. They wanted to help because they learned that junk food is less expensive than fresh produce or they were growing up on emergency food programs that never offered fresh produce. Instead they were supplied with processed, packaged food that increased their weight while decreasing their overall health. That is when I saw the big picture and realized that there is a link between obesity and an unhealthy diet among the less fortunate in the community.

If you could tell your peers one thing they can do to lead a healthier lifestyle, what would it be?

Taking the steps to lead a healthier life is something that is easy, fun and something you can do with your friends. Whether it is riding your bike, swimming, cooking with your friends or growing your favorite vegetables in a pot on your porch, small steps can lead to big results.

What barriers do youth face when trying to live a healthier lifestyle?

A big barrier for kids in my community is the foods provided to them. School lunch options include a corn dog, pizza from a package or water-logged, mushy vegetables from a can. At athletic events, such as swim meets, the concession stand serves pizza, hotdogs and sugar filled candy. The impoverished and hungry families in my community are served bakery goods, cereals full of sugar or canned vegetables and meats. If kids were offered healthy, delicious options they would realize how easy and tasty living a healthy life can be.

Why is it important that youth have a voice in the fight against childhood obesity?

We are the future of this country and we can sit back quietly and fall into unhealthy habits or we can stand up, be heard and take charge of our future!

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