A Roaring Fork Valley middle school student’s efforts to battle hunger from Aspen to Parachute needs a healthy boost before a deadline Thursday.
Chandra Starr has collected donations in jugs on counters of businesses throughout the region since Jan. 27. The spare-change jars for Chandra Starr’s Million Penny Project are also at all Alpine Bank locations.
Chandra aimed to collect $10,000 — the equivalent of 1 million pennies — and help build, plant and maintain gardens associated with Growing Food Forward, an El Jebel nonprofit that supplies fresh produce to food pantries and directly to the hungry. Chandra is about halfway to her goal, according to Kim Doyle Wille, the founder and executive director of Growing Food Forward.
Chandra’s story is so compelling that NBC News reporter Ann Curry interviewed her for a television piece that hasn’t aired yet. Chandra and her mom, Kim Walker, were homeless for a brief time and living in a tent on a mountainside outside Glenwood Springs five years ago. They survived on meals from a soup kitchen and canned and processed foods from a pantry. Their diet had never been good, Walker said in a previous interview, and Chandra became overweight and showed signs of diabetes.
They changed their diet after securing housing. Their meals are now based on fruits, vegetables and greens. When Chandra was pondering what type of cause she could help to earn her Silver Award for Girl Scouts, she got inspired to try to help improve the diets of other people facing tough times. Chandra learned about Wille’s efforts to increase the number of gardens in the region and dedicate some space in existing gardens to grow food for the hungry. Chandra decided to raise money to help that effort.
Chandra is a seventh-grader at St. Stephen’s Catholic School in Glenwood Springs. In addition to raising money this spring, she is working at Glenwood Elementary School to rebuild three large edible gardens. The food will help feed students during the summer who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch.
Wille urged people to contribute to the change jars or make a direct deposit to Chandra Starr’s Million Penny Project at Alpine Bank.