Her Gardens Feed the Hungry

Sophie applied for grants to help fund her work. 

Elizabeth Jochum Photography

Sophie, 16, turned her green thumb into a healthy-eating revolution!

For years, Sophie Bernstein begged her parents to let her plant a garden, but they kept saying no. “They didn’t think I’d take responsibility for it,” she says with a laugh. But in 2011, Sophie finally convinced them—and soon had more veggies than she knew what to do with.

That’s when Sophie decided to take her bounty to a local food bank, where she was shocked by what she saw on the shelves. “There weren’t many healthy options,” says Sophie. “It was all chips, donuts, and soda.” 

Determined to donate more fresh food, Sophie used the money that she had received as gifts for her bat mitzvah (a Jewish ceremony for a girl’s 13th birthday) to finance a second garden at a nearby preschool. Once that garden was a reality, she more than doubled her vegetable output while discovering a side benefit: “The kids were curious! They’d come up to me while I was tending the garden.” 

With the school’s permission, Sophie enlisted the students’ help and started giving presentations on healthy eating. Three years later, her organization, Go Healthy St. Louis, has 19 gardens planned or running and has donated more than 5,000 pounds of produce for low-income families. 

No one’s more surprised than Sophie. “If I can do it, you can,” she says. “I started with a package of seeds and learned so much from there!”    

 More Garden Go-Getters 

Adam Smith Like Sophie, this Arizona high schooler planned and constructed a vegetable garden for a local preschool. Now students learn about gardening and enjoy fresh produce!








Namrita Narula Aside from harvesting 93 pounds of food from her plot at a local food pantry’s garden, this 15-year-old from Illinois also collects loose change to buy the pantry more fruits and vegetables.








Carolanne Boughton After months of fund-raising, Carolanne, 17, built an organic garden at her California high school. Now she’s working with cafeteria staff to get the veggies into school meals! 








 The Facts That Matter: Fresh Produce 

 On average, teens reach for fruit or vegetables just once a day.  

 Teens should consume 4-5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. 

 A produce-heavy diet can reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

SOURCES: 1. USDA’s MyPlate; 2. Centers for Disease Control; 3. Journal of Human Hypertension, 2007; Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 2008.

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