Sophie always wanted a vegetable garden, but her family wasn’t keen on the idea—until she dreamed up a bat mitzvah project to bring fresh produce from the backyard garden to local food banks. When delivering her first harvest, Sophie saw that the food bank’s shelves were primarily stocked with unhealthy snacks, and she realized that she could combat both hunger and childhood obesity. To expand her impact, Sophie decided to engage volunteers and work with community organizations to build raised-bed vegetable gardens at low-income preschools, donate seedlings and garden tools, and teach children at these preschools about gardening and healthy eating. With that, Go Healthy St. Louis was born.
At the time of her Award, Sophie had recruited and trained more than 750 teen volunteers to build, plant, and maintain gardens. She has developed a gardening tool kit, newsletter, and workshop materials focused on the value of growing and eating healthier food; more than 1,200 youth have attended her monthly workshops at synagogues, churches, and schools. Sophie has expanded Go Healthy St. Louis’s efforts to include food drives for healthy non-perishable items like peanut butter. She’s now gearing up to expand her project nationwide with groups such as SafeTEEN and regional high schools. What started as a Bat Mitzvah mission has blossomed into 5,352 pounds of fresh produce for St. Louis families and a long-term commitment to reduce childhood hunger in the United States.