During the month of September, all proceeds of our recently launched tote bag will be donated to an organization we have recently began partnering with: Green Beetz. The organization was founded in 2013 by Dr. Anna Chapman, a psychiatrist, Andrew Chapman, a restauranteur and Tracey Kemble, an entertainment veteran. Our team is thrilled to support them and recently sat down with co-founder, Dr. Anna, to learn more about how Green Beetz came to be and what they are set out to do.
Q: We are so happy to work with you all & are thoroughly impressed by the curriculum you have created. Please share with our audience: what is Green Beetz?
A: Green Beetz provides educators with a plug-and-play curriculum for 4th to 7th graders about our complicated modern food system, which includes nutrition and sustainability.
Green Beetz started in NYC, and has since expanded to all five Boroughs and now beyond the state and even a bit internationally. It is a holistic curriculum that is intended for our middle schoolers to understand more about
- Their food choices
- Their own personal health and that of their communities
- How the food system impacts the environment on both a local and global level
- The societal impact of the food system, which includes how animals are treated, and how people who produce food are treated
The Green Beetz curriculum usually lives in the science classroom period and is delivered in a way that is more entertainment than education-based while still checking all of the education boxes. There are fun videos, activities, and snacks incorporated. The teachers also receive suggestions on how to maximize critical thinking and thoughtful engagement on the kids part, so they can start to question, to think about the wider impact of those experiences in front of them on a day-to-day basis.
Q: Where did the desire to create Green Beetz come from?
A: It originated because my brother and his business partner, Marcus Samuelson, opened the Red Rooster in Harlem and saw the impacts of poor food choices on kids, families, moms who didn’t know or had availability problems. They saw that these food choices were not only going to impact physical health, but also emotional and cognitive development, so they came up with the idea and we grew it together from there. The environmental and social piece came in naturally. We felt it was important for the kids to understand how food is a business and there are people who are benefiting financially from their choices, so that they could have some ammunition to combat some of that marketing.
Q: Where do you provide the nutrition curriculum?
A: It is still provided primarily in NYC because that’s where all the direct relationships are with schools, but we are hoping to dig deeper into other markets. There is no centralized way to get into these schools, so it’s usually word of mouth.
Q: What would someone who already knows about the organization be surprised to learn?
A: When schools were closed during the pandemic, we focused our efforts on building out our online educational portal – Green Beetz Direct – so that our curriculum would be accessible to students wherever they were. We were thrilled to see teachers across the US and even abroad register to teach the program! We are still primarily focused on NYC schools, but Green Beetz is now being taught in TN, WA, CA, WI, MA, IN, IL, MD, VT, FL. We also had schools in Canada, South Korea, the UK and China register for our program online!
Q: What’s your biggest challenge, right now?
A: Green Beetz has great retention – over 90% of our teachers return year-after-year and are instrumental in helping to spread the word. Still, our biggest challenge since day one has been outreach to new schools. Surprisingly, in NYC, there is no centralized way to reach educators to make them aware of non-profit resources like Green Beetz. Because of this, we’ve primarily relied on word-of-mouth and direct outreach to contact teachers and principals.
Q: Can you share a success story?
A: Teachers have told us that the uniqueness of the curriculum inspires a lot of creative and critical thinking on the part of the students. In so many cases, they have taken it and run with it! (Eg the play, their own recipes, letters to congressmen.) When they internalize the message and it really activates them, that’s success in our books!
Q: How can we support?
A: We are always looking to spread the word about Green Beetz so that we can work with more schools. We would love to encourage teachers and parents to come to our website to see if schools in their areas would like to incorporate Green Beetz. And we are always grateful for any donation and support. We run a very lean operation – almost all of the money we are able to raise goes to programming in public schools. We have a number or people who volunteer their time and efforts in ways that reflect their talents, skillsets and interests (and have a great time in the process!). Anyone interested in getting involved should contact us at email@example.com.