Barbara Cole-Gates the director and visionary of Lean and Green Kids is a dear friend and more than that, our partner.  We’re all serving the same mission as we spread the message about the power of plants to bring health and vitality to all.  We’re looking forward to having Barbara share at our upcoming workshop “Back to School” on September 23rd.  We hope you can join us too!

In the meantime, we wanted to introduce Barbara properly, and share with you a little bit of what she’s up to with Lean and Green Kids.

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself, how you came to be Plant Powered, and your personal reasons for creating Lean and Green Kids.

I’m a mom to Jack (18) and Lucy (16),  and motherhood is what brought me to Plant Powered living.  I wanted to do the right thing for my kids, and for their future on this precious planet.

  • What is Lean and Green Kids?

Lean and Green Kids (LGK) is a children’s eco-health education organization.  The LGK mission is to teach kids (and grown-ups) about the life changing, planet saving power of eating plants …especially plant-proteins!  LGK accomplishes the mission through education, outreach, and advocacy.

  • Why is kid’s health, and education relating to nutrition something that’s important to you on a personal level?

Ever since I was a young girl, I had an unusually strong capacity for empathy.

Now, as an adult I think about kids struggling with weight issues, or learning issues, or depression, and I know that eating whole, organic, plant based meals can empower them to improve their lives dramatically – and improve society as a whole.

I am also deeply concerned for our children’s future on this planet.  By helping kids understand that choosing plant protein helps to conserve energy, water, wild places and wild life, while reducing global warming, we help them understand they can make a difference everyday.

  • What are the biggest challenges we are currently facing in the public school systems?

The biggest challenges we’re facing for changing the public school “food system” are the same challenges we face with any proposed change – fear and apathy.

 

It’s human nature to resist change, but I do believe fear is giving way to hope.

  • How is Lean and Green Kids responding to those challenges?

LGK is working with courageous school food directors to provide and promote more plant-based school lunches, and together we are showing the way.  Lean and Green Kids will be promoting the good work of these leaders at the 2012 CA School Nutrition Association Conference in  November, and  at the National Childhood Obesity Conference in Summer 2013.

LGK is also working with the CA Dept. of Education, Nutrition Services to better promote plant-based school lunch options at all CA public schools.

  • What is the best part about the work you’re doing with LGK?

The best part is partnering with others in the health and education fields, and feeling the momentum grow; seeing the barriers break down – after they said it couldn’t be done!

  • What can a concerned parent or community member do to get involved and make a difference?

First and foremost make the commitment to join  the wellness committee/council in their own school district and stay on the committee.  Its a very small time commitment (2 hours a month), and its so important to be working with the people who are creating nutrition policy and nutrition education programs.  And then call me so we can work more effectively as a team!

  • Are you concerned about GMOs (genetically modified organisms)?  Will you be voting yes on Prop 37 in November?  As a parent what are your thoughts on this issue?

I am very concerned about GMOs and I will absolutely be voting YES on Prop 37.  LGK’s education materials focus on three steps for “Eating Lean and Green.” Step one is choose whole foods.  Step two is choose organic.  In step two kids learn about GMOs and why there is cause for concern.  You won’t find that in the education materials the dairy council provides – the biggest provider of nutrition education in America.  Step three is choose plant-based meals.

Put it all together and Eating Lean and Green is eating whole, organic, plant-based meals.

  • Where do you shop and how do you ensure your family is eating healthy?

Jimbos Natural Grocer has been a big support of Lean and Green Kids, so I shop there quite often – amazing store, locally owned and totally committed to promoting plant-based eating.   Closer to home in Oceanside is Earthgrown Market (formerly Boneys), and Cream of the Crop Market.

  • How do you respond when people ask, “How do you get enough protein in a vegan diet?”

LGK promotes nuts and beans for powerful, earth friendly protein.

  • Share with us your favorite recipe.

Sweet Southern BBQ wrap – featuring yams, kidney beans, pineapple, and greens.  Recipe at the website.

  • Are there any special events or projects with Lean and Green Kids in the near future you’d like our readers to know about?

Upcoming conferences mentioned above.

We are also developing three new and exciting nutrition education programs for kids of all ages.

They are totally unique in that they integrate environmental stewardship.  Kids really respond.

  • Is there anything else you feel people should know or you’d like to share?

I would love to see our small, volunteer run organization grow into a viable non profit that includes staff.  If any of your readers are passionate about this cause and would like to become involved in seeing our programs grow, please contact me at barbara@leanandgreenkids.org   Donations are also very much appreciated and needed!