One salad at a time

Sue Moores
Sue Moores, founder of Roots for the Home Team. Photo by Tracy Walsh

Some people, especially when they smile, just glow. When a person’s energy and passion are so strong and positive, you can’t help but notice their shine! Such is the case, I think, with Sue Moores, this month’s vibrant — and inspiring — Good Age Cover Star.

She’s the founder and executive director of Roots for the Home Team, a one-of-a-kind nonprofit that helps local youth learn new skills through training in urban agriculture, culinary arts and entrepreneurship.

Moores, whose day job is being a nutritionist for Kowalski’s Markets, helps teenagers bring signature salads — made with local ingredients the kids grow themselves — to the masses at Target Field.

Yes, right at the Gate 34 entrance to the Minnesota Twins’ major-league ballpark, you’ll spot Sue and the kids marketing healthy salads with names like Kickin’ It Filipino, Lakota Wojapi Manoomin and Purple Rain.

“When you tell someone a food is ‘healthy,’ most people, especially young people, assume that it tastes horrible,” she said. “But fresh fruits and vegetables really do taste delicious, if you’ll give them a chance.”

Since 2012, Roots has served 227 kids, who have created 43 salad recipes and sold 6,375 salads, including some sold at select Twin Cities retail outlets, plus some Minneapolis Public Schools salad bars.

What a brilliant idea and a homerun for kids!

But this isn’t just about Moores doing a nice thing: She’s made it all possible by bringing together a community of key partners, including a team of career ambassadors, who mentor the kids; several corporate sponsors, who contribute not just funds but oodles of in-kind donations and services; and urban youth gardens, which provide fertile spaces for harvests.

It’s kind of amazing.

When I met Moores, during a chilly photoshoot at a snow-covered Target Field, her energy was incredible. She’s seen so much success among the kids involved that she’s hoping to see similar programs at stadiums everywhere, and not just baseball venues.

“I think the next logical step for our program would be to have a presence at Minnesota Lynx games,” she said. “Th ey and their fan base are terrifi c. And I’d love other communities to use our template in stadiums across the country.”

On May 19, salad sales will kick off at weekend home games for the Twins.

And I’m so excited to try the culinary creations from Roots for the Home Team, especially now that I know the wonderful story behind them.