March 2016

What:  Purple Asparagus' Kids Corner at the 12th annual Good Food Festival and Conference, which brings together consumers, producers, buyers, top chefs, experts and investors to celebrate the Good Food movement with a focus on food that is local, sustainable, humane and fair.
When: Saturday, March 27, 2016 10am-5pm
Where: UIC Forum
Why:  Purple Asparagus is running the kids corner at this educational and fun event! Come visit us and partake in family-friendly activities like a scavenger hunt, arts and crafts, story time, a reading corner of books related to food, face painting and more. Special this year! Purple Asparagus will be running a sample of its lesson plans throughout the day. Come see why Chicago students in over 16 schools love us!

What: 365 Days of Giving Fundraiser for Purple Asparagus at DMK Fish Bar
When: First weeks in April
Where: DMK Fish Bar 2956 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
Why: Enjoy a select menu item at DMK Fish bar, with 100% of its proceeds going to Purple Asparagus.
Cost: Varies

SAVE THE DATE: Corks and Crayons Date Change
Our signature family-friendly Corks and Crayons event will be held earlier in the year and will be moving to Uncommon Ground in a fun afternoon for all ages.
Save the Date: Sunday, June 12, 2016, 3pm-6pm
Location: 1401 W. Devon Ave. in Chicago

Is it safe to say that spring has sprung? While this time of year can be unpredictable in temperature, what's certain is that spring is a time to start planting seeds that will sprout into something great - and our organization has been doing just that.

This season is a time of change and growth, and at Purple Asparagus we've enjoyed more than our fair share of both since the year began. We are planning several fun and rewarding upcoming events, have received exciting media accolades and are enjoying unprecedented success in the classroom.

As we reflect on change, which plays such a prominent role in springtime, it's only natural to look back at how Purple Asparagus has evolved. In the past ten years we've progressed from a one-woman show to an organization full of dedicated and passionate volunteers. And that organization, through your hard work and support, is sprouting up new successes every year.

This month, we're eager to share some new ways you can support us through your time, treasure or equipment donations. We also wanted to pass along some recent news and upcoming events. Hope to see you soon!  

Melissa Graham
Head Spear, Purple Asparagus

Foodies and families alike can enjoy good food and Give Delicious! for a good cause on Thursday, March 24.

The following restaurants will generously donate a portion of proceeds on March 24 to support Purple Asparagus' Delicious Nutritious Adventures program:
Don't delay! Make your  reservation at one of these outstanding restaurants now. Be sure to follow @purpleaspchi on Twitter to find out where our board and staff will be dining that night. Stop by and say hello!


She Rules:  Head Spear Melissa Graham was recently featured on WCIU's "You & Me This Morning" in a segment titled "She Rules," which highlights women entrepreneurs who have excelled in fields traditionally dominated by men. Graham quit her job at a big law firm years ago to begin helping kids engage with healthy food. See more by clicking here.  


Each time you bring a reusable bag to Whole Foods until March 31, your 10-cent credit is going to Purple Asparagus!

From January 1 to March 31, 2016, Whole Foods Market Chicago has partnered with Purple Asparagus through its "One Dime at a Time" program, which donates 10 cents each time a shopper brings his or her own bag instead of using the store's brown paper sacks.

Purple Asparagus was selected as one of four beneficiaries for 2016, with the potential to earn thousands of dollars for the program throughout the nine stores within Chicago.

"We've always had a great relationship with Purple Asparagus with many of our team members being instructors for the Delicious Nutritious Adventures program," said Sarah Christensen, Senior Marketing Specialist at Whole Foods Market. "As a mission-based company, one of our core values is providing information about healthy eating, and there's a natural alignment with Purple Asparagus."

The company is also working to bring food accessibility to America's urban food deserts through the Whole Cities Foundation and has also broken ground on a store in Englewood, slated to open in September. With a strong focus on bridging the gap with the local community, the Englewood location will look to hire as many neighbors as possible and start a dialogue about the community's needs for a local grocery store.

Whole Foods Market has also committed to bringing the Delicious Nutritious Adventures program to additional schools. " Purple Asparagus Pop Ups" will come to three public schools on the north side to further our mission of engaging with children on healthy eating. Whole Foods Market is generously donating all of the ingredients, supplies and collateral for each school.

Thank you  WHOLE FOODS!

If your company would like to support Purple Asparagus in a similar manner, please contact us at

Volunteer Spotlight: 

Many of our volunteers are just enthusiastic home chefs who want to give back to a cause they care about, but sometimes we get lucky enough to have a professional join our ranks!

As the founder of her own personal chef and catering company, Blair Carothers typically comes across many people who love food during the course of her day. So when several different sources told her about the mission of Purple Asparagus and urged her to get involved, she knew it was a natural fit for her skill set.

While most days are spent doing personal chef work, cooking instruction and catering for her clients, at least one day a month she volunteers at O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy in Portage Park as a classroom assistant for the Delicious Nutritious Adventures program.

Though her volunteer commitment began less than six months ago, she's already found it beyond rewarding to be in a position to teach children about healthful food and cooking.
"The kids are so honest, and they ask the best questions," said Blair. "And sometimes those questions have prompted me to go look things up on my own, so it's valuable for everyone involved."

One of her favorite parts of volunteering is when a student says they've never seen one of the ingredients before, and makes an effort to taste something new.

"I think one of the biggest benefits of the program is the concept of 'polite bites' and teaching kids to frame their opinion in a positive way, regardless of whether or not they care for the ingredient," said Blair, whose favorite vegetable is artichokes or white asparagus.

Looking for a Few Good Spears
We're always lo oking for a few good spears to help out with programs, outreach, event planning and to serve on our board of directors.

EVENT COMMITTEE MEMBERS : Purple Asparagus is seeking fun and creative individuals to serve on its event committee members, which will plan our new fundraiser in February 2017. If you have any questions, think you are the right Spear for the job, or if you know someone who is, please send a resume and cover letter to Stephen Landfear at

DONATE YOUR TREASURE:  We're on the move! While we'll still be in the Green Exchange Building, Purple Asparagus is moving into a larger office suite to support our new programming efforts and staffing needs. We're looking for:
· 2-3 desks
· 3-4 office chairs
· A refrigerator (something small with a freezer)

If you or you know anyone that might be willing to donate these items, please email Stephen Landfear at

PROGRAMMING UPDATE: Beans, Peas & Lentils

In March, we focus on Legumes, talking about what part of the plant these come from (pods) and how they are full of protein! We also make a black bean dip and a banana soy shake. 

"I am so happy with myself because I am making a recipe all by myself!" - Prussing Elementary student.

We kicked off our Family Cooking Program at our partner schools (funded by WellCare) this month. Lots of family fun -- it is loud and energetic in the best way! Parents gave wonderful feedback and the children loved the recipes after our first event. We will be continuing with these through May.
Thank you for your continued support! Sincerely, Purple Asparagus
The Green Exchange Building | 2545 W. Diversey Ave. | Suite 203 | Chicago, IL 60647 | | 773.991.1920

Thank you to Erin Sarris of Spun Copy