Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Pioneers are Back

I can’t express how good it felt to have harvested our sweet potato crop last Saturday with 16 of the 25 kids of this summer’s Sweet Potato Project. I knew they face many challenges with some struggling to get loans for college, find jobs or just deal with the plethora of pressures and challenges young people grapple with, especially those living in our disadvantaged neighborhoods.


We delivered our yield to Salus Processing Center inside St. Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice. The youth met Chef Steve Jenkins, assistant professor and director of SLU’s Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship program. Thorough a wonderful partnership with the University, Jenkins will help our youth produce, bake and their distribute sweet potato cookies and perhaps another product this year.

Saint Louis University

Sweet Potato Project youth chat with Chef Steve Jenkins, assistant professor and director of SLU’s Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship program. Chef Steve will help students bake cookies.
What’s so cool is that We've gotten the kids back together. I know some of “the stuff” they’re dealing with. The ones with no job, no way to attend college and are susceptible to peer pressure are my major concern. I quietly worried about the gap between the time summer classes ended and the lack of funds to resume classes in the fall. But thanks to a few kind donors and another wonderful $15,000 matching grant challenge (see details below), the board and I decided to officially start classes and cookie production.

What’s more significant about our gathering again is that we’re following up on a promise. I've told the Sweet Potato Project youth that they are urban pioneers. By example, we will prove that produce grown in North St. Louis can be made in viable marketable products. Our relationship with St. Louis University puts us ahead of our goals. Our program is in line with the department’s desire to grow more fresh food in the city and introduce healthy, food-based product lines to consumers. More important, they are just as anxious as we are to create a food-based economy in North St. Louis that will eventually lead to job and small business creation.

The teens aren't the only pioneers in this effort. The Sweet Potato Project is a grassroots effort that has been sustained by so many kind and helpful individuals, donors and corporations.  

The youth are back in the fold and we’re ready to get cooking. Our path is promising but we still have challenges ahead. Please read the attached “What We Have/What We Need” mailer below. If you can help, please do.

To help us reach our matching grant please click button below: