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Garden To Table 2017 Chef Matt McCallister joins Chef Robby Hooker, Chef Oscar Miranda, Chef Jennifer Bajsel, Chef Joe Baker, and others in the Independence Gardens 2017 Garden To Table Dinner

Independence Gardens announces 2017 Garden To Table Dinner to benefit Nutrition Education Campaign

LEWISVILLE – April 1, 2017 – In 2015, Sarah Allen, a first-grade teacher at Southridge Elementary in Lewisville, Texas had an idea.  In a school and neighborhood where 71% of the student population is economically disadvantaged, she wanted to create a program that gave her students real life opportunities and addressed the lack of nutrition education.  

“Lack of child nutrition is an epidemic in our country and greatly affects people in poverty.” said Sarah Allen.  “There was a direct need for healthy foods for our students at Southridge, since most live in a food dessert (a grocery store is not within walking distance to their homes).  When we heard about the programs Independence Gardens were providing students in our District, we knew they would be a perfect partner.”

Independence Gardens’ (IG), a 501c3 nonprofit parent-led organization, funds experiential nutrition programs starting with their edible outdoor learning spaces.  Their signature fundraising event, Garden To Table Dinner, will be held on May 6, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. on the grounds of the Community Gardens at Independence Elementary in Lewisville, Texas.  This year, Chef Matt McCallister, Owner and Executive Chef of FT33, will lead a cadre of chefs curating six courses inspired by fruits and vegetables grown in the community school gardens within the Independence Gardens network.  

While school gardening is not a new concept, IG programs combine not only the hands-on activities in their outdoor learning spaces but a hands-on cooking program (Come and Eat IT!) where students learn how to use the fruits and vegetables they are growing.  A program with 100% student participation, integrated into curriculum, and where the food is self-sustaining and healthy for the whole school. 

“One of the main goals of Independence Gardens is nutrition education.”  said Chonnie Richey, Founder of Independence Gardens. “It begins with our edible school gardens and it culminates in our Come and Eat IT! Campaign, a fun, interactive, and yummy event that educates students on the relationship between food and nutrition.  We’re very excited to add Chef McCallister to the lineup of chefs participating this year.  His approach to food is inline with IG’s Mission and Vision.  

“As a community, we’re failing our children when even one of them goes to school hungry, or have no access to nutritious food.” said Chonnie Richey. “Independence Gardens has a chance to make an impact on childhood hunger and decrease the obesity rate through nutrition education. We challenge our children to dream big every day because they’re the ones that will shape our future. But how can they do that when they’re hungry or have to battle preventable diseases like obesity? They can’t. If we can touch that child’s life with something as basic as access to nutritious food, we’ve already made a difference.”

Independence Gardens collaborates with chefs representing local restaurateurs to make their hands-on activity a reality.  Proceeds from this dinner will go towards building additional edible outdoor learning spaces and funding their Come and Eat It Nutrition Education programs. Their goal, 40 elementary schools will have this program within five years.  

Tickets are available for purchase at 

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