Episode 09 - Melissa Graham, Purple Asparagus
In this weeks episode my guest is Melissa Graham, founding Executive Director of Purple Asparagus. Purple Asparagus is a non-profit that educates children, families and the community about eating that’s good for the body and the planet. Purple Asparagus believes that all children and families deserve good health and a healthy planet and that the health of both is promoted by eating a diet high in produce.
In this episode I sit down with Melissa to discuss her story and why she decided to leave her job as an attorney to start Purple Asparagus to educate children and families of Chicago about the importance of a healthy diet. In the episode Melissa shares the early days of Purple Asparagus, challenges for a new non-profit organization, learning a lot by trial and error, never saying the word no in order to get your name out there, and at the end of the day it’s all about the ‘Aha moment’ for the kids and making healthy eating fun.
Since 2011, Purple Asparagus’ award-winning flagship program, Delicious Nutritious Adventures, has brought healthy foods to life for tens of thousands of elementary school children in Chicagoland schools. Delicious Nutritious Adventures take place each month in the classroom during the school day and are taught by trained staff and volunteers. In the 2017-18 school year, over 1,000 students in 16 Chicagoland schools received Purple Asparagus’ nutrition education program, Delicious Nutritious Adventures.
The University of Chicago’s Center for Elementary Math and Science Education conducted an evaluation of Purple Asparagus’ Delicious Nutritious Adventures and concluded that more than half (57%) of parents agreed that their child ate more fruit after the program, and a large percentage (44%) also agreed their child ate more vegetables. It also found that the majority of parents (76%) prepared one or more Purple Asparagus recipes, and that most (66%) were inspired by their child’s enthusiasm for healthy foods to cook other recipes at home. (information is provided on the Purple Asparagus website)