Texas boy grows food to feed families in need

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — Ian McKenna loves helping others, and now he’s getting grants to help him achieve his goal of feeding people in need.

The City of Austin Sustainability Office is awarding 11-year-old Ian a check for nearly $2,000 for a Hacienda Community Giving Garden at his old elementary school. While he was in school at Sunset Valley Elementary, he started a smaller Giving Garden to send healthy fruits and vegetables home with children in need over the holidays. Now, Ian’s project will be expanded and combined with other grants. The school will also start moving toward zero waste as well as rainwater harvesting and installing a new butterfly garden.

Mary Priddy, outreach coordinator for the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability, says his grant proposal “just really hit a nerve,” because it hit so many facets of what the Bright Green Futures grant program is about: sustainability, food access, helping those in need and growing community ties.

“Honestly, it was a four tissue-er. It sort of made us cry. We’ve gone through probably 500 applications since the start of this program, and his just really hit a nerve,” says Priddy.

Ian’s idea is to sell leftover fruits and vegetables from each season at a farmer’s market. The profit will buy seeds for the next planting season.

“My main dream is just to get this started all around the world,” says Ian.

Sunset Valley Principal Kim Placker is excited about the grant money because it will enhance the small projects the school is already doing with community volunteers. She likes that Ian’s Hacienda Community Giving Garden will most impact the community, by giving back.

Ian’s not stopping there: he’s also planting at home. He also received another grant from Katie’s Krops, a private non-profit organization aimed at helping kids grow healthy food to donate to needy families. He plans to donate what he grows at home to the Capital Area Food Bank. As long as Ian keeps growing and donating, Katie’s Krops will keep supporting his garden.

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