Seed to Supper: Grow Food, Restore Connection, Empower Families


Photo of vegetables prepared for dinner

The Seed to Supper Program seeks to help young people form a healthy connection to food. In nine Saturday sessions over a period of three months, youth from MEND’s After School Program learn how to plant and tend a garden. In addition to getting their hands dirty, they receive science-based classroom instruction in nutrition and sustainable gardening. These classes enhance their understanding and appreciation of what’s happening in the garden, in food they eat, and how it affects them. The program culminates in a harvest celebration supper where the students harvest what they’ve grown, prepare a nutritious meal and serve it to their family and friends.

Photo of students preparing the soil in the MEND gardenJonathan Quintana, 12, and his sister, Brisa, 9, joined the Seed to Supper Program after their mom learned about the new Emergency Food Bank program. A sample class includes a lecture on minerals and vitamins, nutritional snack time, and hands-on gardening. Jonathan and Brisa remember planting a few things with their dad, but that experience does not compare to the things they are learning now in the program. Jonathan gets excited when talking about the start of harvest and how butterflies affect the growth of certain plants.

MEND also collaborates with another non-profit, Farming’s Future, to create sustainable home gardens for interested families of participant youth so that the learning and growing can continue with the entire family.

Photo of students watering the MEND gardenWhen MEND set out to convert an unused corner of its parking lot into a food producing space nearly two years ago, the aim was to create a “garden-as-classroom,” recalls Luke Ippoliti, MEND’s Food Bank Assistant Manager.

“Growing a garden allows kids to see food in its natural state, which evokes wonder and inspires them to try different things. Combine that with the fact that food from the garden tastes more flavorful, and you have an experience that transforms our relationship with what we eat.”

What’s more, he adds, “families benefit when they are able to supplement their food by growing their own vegetables and herbs—both of which are costly at the market.”

What Can You Do? Host a Food Drive!

Don’t wait for the crops to grow or for the next Stamp Out Hunger Campaign to donate food stuff to MEND. We are always in need of canned and dried goods (e.g., dry beans, rice, pasta, canned vegetables, etc.). To host a food drive, please contact Richard Weinroth, Foodbank Director, at (818) 686-7334.