How a giant cabbage eventually helped this girl feed hundreds of thousands of people.
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General Mills Feeding Better Futures

The average cabbage weighs between one and eight pounds. In 2008, a nine-year-old girl grew a cabbage so large it could have come from a fairy tale about enchanted vegetables.

[rebelmouse-image 19496985 dam="1" original_size="750x500" caption="Photo by Clint McKoy on Unsplash" expand=1]Photo by Clint McKoy on Unsplash

Katie Stagliano never meant to grow a cabbage that would've made a fairy godmother proud. She was just a third-grader bringing home a school project that was meant to inspire her green thumb.


She tended to the cabbage every day. And every day, the tiny seedling she'd planted got bigger. It quickly surpassed one pound, then two, and then 30. By the time the cabbage finally hit maturity, it weighed 40 pounds.

What to do with a behemoth cabbage? Once harvested, Katie decided to donate it to a local soup kitchen where it would feed more than 275 people.

Turns out the cabbage really was magical. It inspired Katie's love of gardening and — more importantly — her desire to give back.

Photo courtesy of Katie Stagliano, General Mills.

Seeing how much of an impact one cabbage got Katie thinking. At only nine years old, she realized how important it was for everyone to have access to fresh and healthy food. At the same time, it was clear that not everyone had such access. The statistics, in fact, are sobering: one in eight people go hungry in America each year. That's 40 million people, 12 million of which are children.

That clinched it for Katie. Before her age reached double digits, she'd made it her mission to end hunger in America.

While it started from a gargantuan cabbage, Katie's nonprofit that she leads today has grown bigger than any cabbage ever could. General Mills is a big part of that.

Photo courtesy of  Katie Stagliano, General Mills.

Katie's Krops started with one garden and a few volunteers. Today, the organization boasts over 100 gardens all over the country. Katie's Krops provides the volunteers who run them with small grants to help those gardens flourish and yield plentiful produce for the food insecure.

In California, a young man named Joey has provided Shepherd's Gate, a women's shelter, with the only fresh fruit and vegetables the shelter gets.

In Ohio, the students at West Carrollton High School are growing fruits and vegetables for more than 450 homeless people right on campus. It was the first time many of the students had ever learned about agriculture.

Thanks to this incredible chain of agricultural efforts, in 2018, Katie's Krops donated 38,342 pounds of produce across America.

Photo courtesy of  Katie Stagliano, General Mills.

In 2018, Katie was the winner of General Mills' first-ever Feeding Better Futures scholar program. The contest, which was designed to give today's youth a chance to make an impact on how we, as a society, fight hunger, reduce food waste and grow food more sustainably. It perpetuates General Mills' decades-long commitment to both philanthropy and making sure that all people, everywhere, have enough to eat and love what they're eating.

Katie was awarded $50,000 to continue developing her organization so she can feed even more people. She was mentored by industry experts and presented her project at The Aspen Ideas festival.

And business is still booming. Volunteers have given more than 1,000 hours to ensure the success of Katie's flagship garden in South Carolina. The produce grown their goes has been donated to food banks and cancer centers. Food is also given directly to families and individuals in need and used for Katie's Krops Dinners — regularly scheduled events where anyone in need can eat a free, hot meal in the company of their community. Volunteers also prepare care packages, distribute books, toys, school supplies, and clothing to those in need.

Katie doesn’t think anyone is too young or too small to make a big difference. She doesn’t see obstacles — only opportunities. That’s the way that General Mills looks at the problem of world hunger, too. It can be overcome with passion, empathy, and innovation.

Are you ready to take on the fight against hunger? The world's waiting for your ideas.

If Katie's story has inspired you, then it's time to take action. If you're between the ages of 13 and 21, now is your chance to be a part of keeping future generations fed. Submit your creative ideas for ending hunger to General Mills by February 26th, 2019, and you could win $50,000, life-changing mentorship from industry leaders, and an even bigger platform through which to share your ideas for change. Two additional finalists will receive $10,000 to kickstart their projects. The deadline is quickly approaching, so now's the time to get cracking on your entry!

Solving global issues like hunger takes innovation. It requires us to work together. Katie's ending hunger one vegetable garden at a time. How will you make a difference?

To learn more about Katie's story, check out this video:

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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