How One Man Gets Thousands Of Kids in Harlem To Eat Their Vegetables

by Roxy Garrity
Roxy is a reporter and writer for LittleThings. Born in North Carolina, she graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Florida, and now lives in Manhattan. She's drawn to uplifting stories that inspire her audience, and she has interviewed a range of compelling public figures, such as President Obama and Taylor Swift. She loves live music, yoga, art, traveling, all animals, and meeting new people. Send her your story ideas or just say hi!

Planting seeds for healthy living in Harlem. That’s the mission for Tony Hillery and his non-profit Harlem Grown.

Tony Hillery, Founder and Director of Harlem Grown told, “Here in Harlem, New York it’s almost impossible to get affordable healthy food. We counted 53 fried chicken restaurants in a 3 block radius, 27 pharmacies, and not one healthy food option.”

To provide more options for fresh organic vegetables, Tony transformed abandoned lots into thriving urban gardens.

“This lot was abandoned five years ago. It was full of garbage and illegal activity.

We changed it. Our first year we grew 40 pounds; last year was 2140 something pounds, and all of this food is sent home with the children,” said Hillery.

30% of kids at PS197 in Harlem are homeless, 80% live in single parent homes, and 100% of their parents are on food stamps.

Natasha Spann, Principal at PS197 said, “I’m seeing a positive impact on them not just physically but mentally. They’re having healthy meals. They get 3 meals here they have snacks here. They’re doing recycling here and they’re teaching their parents how to shop.”

Hillery added, “Once they planted it they started eating it right off the vine, to me that’s my salary, because I don’t pay myself. That’s where I get my rewards and we get it everyday.”

For more information and how to support the non-profit visit and SHARE this story!

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