Growing Something Greater: Green Bronx Machine’s First-Ever Gala
Green Bronx Machine’s First-Ever Gala and Game Changing Awards Honored Guests include NYC Mayor Eric Adams, NYC Schools Chancellor David C. Banks, and New York State Education Commissioner Dr. Betty Rosa
New York, NY—On October 9th, at Inside Park at Saint Bart’s, Green Bronx Machine will host its first ever Growing Something Greater Gala, an immersive one-of-a-kind cocktail and culinary showcase prepared by a team of Restaurant Associate Chefs @ Google, honoring a community of transformative leaders in innovative “Green” education.
For this epic inaugural event, founder Stephen Ritz, and the team that grows healthy students and healthy schools, will turn the iconic landmark, Inside Park at Saint Barts, into an interactive replica of the Green Bronx Machine classroom complete with six tower gardens — a vertical farm— and the state-of-the-art Green Bronx Machine mobile classroom kitchen with video station.
“This evening represents our collective moment, from the Bronx to the world! We are so honored to celebrate the talent and diversity of our programs and heroes, especially our NYC teachers and students,” says Ritz. “To think the food served will be locally grown is further proof that NYC is leading the way. I promise everyone a night they will never forget so that children can live a life beyond all expectations! Please join us and get involved!”
Mike Gillepsie, President of the Good Eating Company, donated the iconic space at Inside Park at Saint Barts, the first church in NYC to accept the African-American and LQBTQ+ communities equitably and inclusively. “The Good Eating Company is so proud to be associated with Green Bronx Machine and the impact they are making in so many kids’ lives. What better place than Inside Park at St. Barts to bring awareness and celebrate,” he said.
At the gala, NYC Mayor Eric Adams, NYC Schools Chancellor David C. Banks, New York State Education Commissioner Dr. Betty Rosa will deliver remarks and celebrate the first annual GAME CHANGING AWARDS.
“Creating infrastructure for sustainable and equitable food production and distribution is a key pillar of our administration’s comprehensive, 10-year ‘Food Forward’ plan, and Green Bronx Machine’s school-based urban agriculture is growing something even greater: better learning outcomes,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “This organization is doing its part to ensure that the supply chains that feed New York City are modern, efficient, and resilient, now and in the future. The work we’re celebrating here is a testament to how we can work together to reach a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy food system — one where the food you want can meet you where you are. Congratulations to the Green Bronx Machine on its inaugural gala, and I look forward to continuing to partner together to build a healthier New York City.”
“We know that good, healthy food brings a community together, and the Green Bronx Machine is an integral part of bringing together school communities across the Bronx,” said NYC Schools Chancellor David C. Banks. “There is no better learning than hands-on learning, and the Green Bronx Machine brings the experience of working with the earth and nature to our schools, while bringing the products of that learning to the community. I am proud to have the Green Bronx Machine as a partner and I look forward to seeing how they can grow to work with even more schools and students.”
New York State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “The Bronx Green Machine is the bedrock upon which we can build a brighter tomorrow for our students, nourishing young minds with fresh, wholesome foods grown in their own communities. This school-based model uses urban agriculture to not only foster physical well-being, but instill vital lessons about sustainability, responsibility, and the interconnectedness each of us have with the wider world. The Bronx Green Machine prepares our children for careers and civic life, teaching them to be resilient and resourceful leaders. This gala will highlight a model that is truly growing something greater in the Bronx: hope, growth, and endless possibility.”
The Game Changing Awards will be presented to these seven remarkable individuals:
- Global Food Hero, MICHIEL BAKKER, Google, VP Global Workplace
- Community Culinary Educator Award, CHEF MARIAN LARAIA, Google, Executive Culinary
- Hometown Health Hero, RUBEN DIAZ JR., Montefiore Hospital, Senior VP
- Community Advocate Award, MICHAEL BLAKE, Atlas Strategy Group, CEO
- Hospitality Heroes, ANGELA EVERETT and KEVIN AYALA, NYC Department of Education
- Garden to Graduate Service Award, ANSH MORAJE, University of Texas, Austin
- Lifetime Achievement Award, JAY and SANDRA MARTIN, Juice Plus+, Founder.
Michiel Bakker, VP Workplace Programs Google commented: “The Food team at Google strives to contribute to food system improvements every day, and we know it isn’t easy. Green Bronx Machine continuously inspires us by showing the enormous power of food to change lives. Never once have I failed to see an individual be deeply moved when they hear the GBM story. We believe in you, we support you and we thank you for bringing some magic into our lives.”
Chef Marian LaRaia, Executive Culinary Google, said: “Working with Green Bronx Machine to teach children how to grow and prepare food, to help them make choices that are kinder to themselves and the planet, to move them from conspicuous consumers to conscientious producers, and see the excitement, pride, and joy they experience in the process is beyond fulfilling; it is inspiring and has made me a better professional as well. This is what food education and hospitality is all about. I’m honored to be working with such a responsive and grateful community, much less be recognized with the Community Culinary Educator Award. October 9, 2023, will be a five-star celebration of what is possible when communities and people come together in the best interests of children. What could be more rewarding or impactful? I hope everyone joins us to grow something greater and make the evening a huge success!”
Montefiore Hospital Senior VP, Ruben Diaz Jr. said, “Green Bronx Machine works here in the Bronx and in 700+ schools across America – proof that the Bronx CAN – Change Attitudes Now. Through Stephen and Lizette, we are telling a new Bronx story, harvesting minds, cultivating hope, and growing happier, healthier children and high performing schools – their success is our success. I partnered with Green Bronx Machine numerous times as borough president, and know firsthand the great work this organization does. I’m proud to be recognized for my advocacy by Green Bronx Machine, but far prouder of all they do for our children. From Park Avenue in the Bronx, to Park Avenue NYC, this is a night for Bronxites and all of NYC to celebrate; I hope you will join me in celebrating and supporting their work!”
“Green Bronx Machine is the epitome of a beautifully inspiring story in The Bronx,” said Michael Blake, CEO & Founder Atlas Strategy, Former DNC Vice-Chair. “You walk up flights of stairs to the bustling sounds of voices from all around the world. You see pure joy and real energy of STEMINISTS and young Chefs in every one of their motions. You then arrive at a bright spot of Green Excellence that uplifts your soul no matter the clouds of the day. You are fed in every possible meaning of the word. You are truly changed by the education of life you receive within moments. As a son of The Bronx who immediately was captivated as an Assembly Member by the transformational vision but sustained my excitement by the success of the local and Global mission, it is a blessing to be honored by Steve, Lizette and Green Bronx Machine because our overarching commitment is to the advocate for the next Generation to be greater than our own, in our beloved home of The Bronx.”
“I’m so grateful for the award and even more grateful to Green Bronx Machine,” said award-winner Angela Everett, a special needs and ENL teacher at PS 993 in Queens, a D75 School. “Because of them, we are growing food and minds in school daily! Through their program and support, I have been able to give my students hands-on experiences and opportunities in health, wellness, nutrition, sustainability, and most importantly, workforce development and career opportunities that they never would have had otherwise. This program has been such a blessing to our entire school community. Every school in NYC needs Green Bronx Machine.”
“This whole experience has been like a dream for me,” said award-winner Kevin Ayala, a 14-year-old student of Ms. Everett’s at PS 993. “When I learned about Mr. Ritz and Green Bronx Machine, I knew I wanted to do more in school. When we wrote to him, and he wrote back, we could not believe it. It got me and my classmates even more excited. Now we have the coolest classroom in the school and all of us are eating better, working harder and LOVE coming to school. I hope students everywhere get to have Green Bronx Machine in their school too!”
“In 2013, as I embarked on my gardening journey alongside Green Bronx Machine, little did I anticipate the profound impact it would have on both me and the wider community,” said Ansh Moraje, University of Texas, Austin. “It granted me invaluable insights into the scarcity of fresh produce in urban areas while igniting a lasting passion for gardening and nutrition that I carry with me to this day. Receiving the Garden to Graduate Service Award is an immense honor, and I am deeply thankful to Green Bronx Machine. I take pride in the opportunity to give back to an organization that has made such a meaningful difference in countless lives.”
Jay and Sandra Martin, Founder, JuicePlus+: “We are proud to support the work Green Bronx Machine is doing in NYC and across the nation to inspire healthy living and inspire healthy learning. We can think of no word more worthy of praise than teacher, and we know of no teachers more praiseworthy than Stephen and Lizette Ritz. While they celebrate us, we celebrate them and hope all will join us on this very special evening in service of our children and their program.”
Paul Fairhead, CEO/Managing Director, ISS/Guckenheimer, said: “As a Chef led food company Guckenheimer is proud to support the inaugural Green Bronx Machine Gala, The GBM program is inspirational in the passion and impact it drives through education and hands-on learning. GBM enacts change by creating energy and fun around all things food. Congratulations to GBM on all their achievements to date.”
“Restaurant Associates is thrilled to support the Green Bronx Machine, aligning with its mission to build healthy, equitable, and resilient communities through inspired education and workplace development,” Ed Brown, CEO Restaurant Associates. “Through this sponsorship, we aim to contribute to a healthier and greener future for all.”
The menu for the gala, prepared by Restaurant Associates Chefs Tim Buma and Catering Director Todd Brown, is inspired by local, sustainable and home-grown ingredients, including greens from Gotham Greens, where Green Bronx Machine graduates work.
At the cocktail hour from 5pm-6pm including a signature cocktail called the Green Grand Concourse – inspired by teas, fruits, vegetables, and spices found across the Bronx – silver agave optional, guests will enjoy passed hors d’oeuvres & canapes including Maitake Quinoa Arancini with Smoked Parmesan and Pear; Broccoli Satay with Rice Pearls and Gochujang Peanut Sauce; Carrot Tartare with Taro Root and Hemp Seed Dukkah; Scallion Pancake Quesadillas with Chili Jackfruit, and “Tower Garden” Swiss Chard Wraps with Chicken, Figs, and Olives.
A three-course seated dinner begins at 6pm, with a seasonally-inspired, vegetable-forward menu that includes Fall Bitter Greens by Gotham Greens with Yellow Eye Beans, Braised Roots, Apple, and Persimmon Puree; Root Vegetable Moussaka with Coconut Bechamel, Parsnip Crumble, and Beer Pickled Onions; Charred Jumbo Prawns with Green Olive Chimichurri; and French Cut Hudson Valley Cornish Hen with Braised “Tower Garden” Swiss Chard and Red Verjus Glaze.
In addition to food, drinks, mocktails and merriment, there will be a live-auction with Christine DeCastro. “I am absolutely thrilled to be partnering with the amazing team at Green Bronx Machine for the inaugural “Growing Something Greater Gala!,” said DeCastro. “GBM is making a generational impact on the lives of those living in urban communities across the country. Stephen & Lizette are transforming the way we think about growing food with passion and innovation. I am honored to help raise MORE funds, so that Green Bronx Machine can do even MORE good!”
The auction will include a ticket package from the NY Yankees, where Green Bronx Machine, in partnership with Tower Garden, recently installed a year-round commercial farm for the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, gift certificates to acclaimed restaurants, art, sports memorabilia, NY Islanders VIP Package, and luxury travel destinations, including an all-inclusive Seattle Gourmet Trip from Circle Alliances and Food Inspiration, and an incredible, two-day, VIP “Gold” package to the World Business Forum at Lincoln Center for three individuals, where Stephen Ritz will keynote the event highlighting Green Impact with an international call to action.
“Our partnership with Green Bronx Machine has had a profound effect in helping the Yankees organization both further its sustainability efforts and reach children in a more meaningful way in our community programming,” said Brian Smith, New York Yankees Senior Vice President for Corporate/Community Relations. “Most notably, their support of the Yankee Stadium Tower Garden Farm, which was installed in May 2022, has allowed us to have a hands-on focal point for our Healthy Home Plate Program for elementary and middle school children. We celebrate Bronx Green Machine in its tireless efforts to provide desperately needed food education to local young people, and we wish them all the best as they embark on their first gala.”
“At WOBI we are excited to be able to feature Green Bronx Machine and Stephen Ritz at the 20th anniversary edition of the World Business Forum New York on November 15-16, as part of our Green Impact initiative. The aim of Green Impact is to use the platform of the World Business Forum to inspire business leaders to make a positive difference in the fight against climate change.” said Chris Stanley, Managing Director, WOBI USA & Global Content Director. “We believe that the work of Green Bronx Machine is truly inspirational, not only in promoting sustainable urban farming but also in the positive impact it continues to have on the lives of thousands of children. We hope that Stephen’s presentation and incredible can-do energy will inspire leaders to either collaborate with the efforts of Green Bronx Machine or to launch environmental and social initiatives of their own.
There will also be a “Dessert Dash,” and exclusive culinary experiences, like a personalized dinner prepared by Celebrity Chef and NY Times Best-Selling Author Mark Bittman, who says: “I applaud the work of Green Bronx Machine and am so looking forward to attending the event. I’m thrilled and excited to donate a custom and personal evening of cooking food and celebration for a lucky auction winner in support of the great work Stephen and team do for our children everywhere.”
Sponsorship opportunities for the Grow Something Greater Gala are available here.
For further information and press tickets please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
* * *
About Green Bronx Machine:
Green Bronx Machine (GBM) was founded in 2011 by Stephen Ritz, a former NYC Public School teacher / administrator who found children in his Bronx classroom faced poor nutrition and lack of access to healthy fresh food, which led to a lack of focus and trouble learning, as well as diet-related diseases like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and self-esteem issues.
With GBM, Ritz now builds healthy, equitable, and resilient communities through inspired green education, local food systems, and 21st Century workforce development across NYC and the nation. “We grow vegetables, our vegetables grow students, our students grow high performing schools and happy, healthy communities,” says Ritz.
Based at Community School 55 in the South Bronx, in the poorest Congressional District in America, the Classy Social Innovation Award Winning Green Bronx Machine has evolved into a K-12+ model fully integrated into a core curriculum touching over 700 schools and 275,000 students around the world! Dedicated to cultivating minds and harvesting hope, the GBM school-based model uses urban agriculture aligned to their signature Green Bronx Machine Classroom Curriculum to educate the next generation of healthy children and youth. To date, GBM has produced over 185,000 pounds of student-grown vegetables with 100% teacher satisfaction and 94% of all participating students want to repeat the program.
GBM has been named a Platinum Wellness Program by NYC Department of Education, Top Ten Health and Wellness Program in America by the Harkin Institute, Top 100 Educational Innovation in the World by HundrEd.org, earned an Emmy Award, back-to-back Classy Social Innovation Awards, 7 Anthem Awards, American Graduate Awardee, CNN Food Heroes, Best in Bronx Award and numerous other accolades. GBM schools consistently outperform their peer index neighbors on school performance metrics and it not only helps them do better in school, it gives them the tools to live longer healthier lives, and inspires them to dig into careers in food, agriculture, and sustainability.
“We envision growing healthy communities where those who are “apart from” will become “part of” new solutions that benefit 100% of society; a world where people do not have to leave their community to live, learn and earn in a better one,” said founder Stephen Ritz. “Together, we can grow something greater! Ready, set, GROW!”