CHOP Awards Grant to Expand Gardening and Wellness Activities

Kids in the Little Learners League program water their seedlings on the porch at Aquinas Center. A new greenhouse will create a better place to start seeds.’
YEP/Kasama teens harvest arugula for a community meal.








Philadelphia, PA –Aquinas Center has received a grant of $5,000 through the CHOP Cares program for an expansion of the existing garden and the roll out of new complimentary supports that will benefit children, youth, adults, and seniors in South Philadelphia. The funds will add a  greenhouse to the grounds, increase planting areas, and nurture nutrition and wellness activities facilitated by the Youth Entrepreneurship Project (YEP).

With the assistance of their Community Advisory Board, the Office of Community Relations at CHOP awards grants to their employees to fill a specific health or wellness-related need in one of the many Pennsylvania and New Jersey communities CHOP serves. Daniel Colbert, Esq., an Aquinas Center board member, neighbor, and CHOP employee who applied for the grant, believes that, “Igniting a passion for the growing process is an integral part of passing on knowledge about nutrition and health. It makes so much sense for CHOP to invest in neighborhood wellness in this way.”

New Aquinas staff member Lila Bhide will be overseeing this project as the Garden Coordinator.  Lila has years of experience with farming, youth engagement, food justice, and cooking. She helped lead youth and farm programs with The Food Project in Boston and has worked locally with Urban Tree Connection and the University of Pennsylvania. Lila is excited to spearhead this project, saying, “This greenhouse will allow us to extend our growing season, and increase the amount of food we can provide for the community. We will be growing organic, local, culturally relevant foods and teens will be able to use things from the garden to create added value products that can be sold year-round under their Kasama Farmstand brand that does good by doing well.”

The creation of the Garden Coordinator position, and the pursuit of grant funding for this work, is an intentional effort to engage in the wider movement for food sovereignty. This effort will strengthen the Aquinas Center’s presence as a place where many culture and traditions converge, building solidarity across something that unites us all: food!