Do good. Eat good.

After writing this blog for nearly four years, I think I can safely make some assumptions about you, my readers. Assumption one: you like food. Two: you like food prepared by one of our many talented chefs. Three: You’re pro Cleveland and will always support local when able. Four: You care about this community and supporting others when in need. Five: You have $5.

(and I’m willing to bet you’d happily exchange that $5 for free dinner out the rest of the year.)

After meeting Farmer Lee Jones, I learned about the Veggie U initiative, a national program that promotes the well-being of children through a healthy lifestyle with a focus on making wise food choices, combating adolescent and juvenile disease, and attaining an understanding of sustainable agriculture. The program is embraced and loved by teachers and students alike. Locally, 150 schools in the Cleveland Metro School District have been using the 4th grade Veggie U science program. Unfortunately, they don’t have any funding to continue as $200 per classroom is needed to fund the kits.

On the way home from that initial meeting and fabulous dinner, we had an idea to try to help these students and teachers. Would you be willing to donate a minimum of $5 to help this cause? That’s your morning Starbucks. If we all help and spread the word, we have an opportunity to make a difference here. And if you’ve watched the news lately, you know Cleveland students can use a little bit of good news.

If you donate $5 to Veggie U, you will automatically be entered to win more than $1,900 worth of gift cards to all your favorite eateries and shops. Want to increase your odds? Donate $10, $25, $50 or more (I promise you won’t miss $25). For every $5 you donate, you will earn another entry into the drawing. The more you donate, the greater your chance of winning. You have until February 12 to donate and be entered. It’s easy – just call 419.499.7500; you must reference Cleveland Foodie (a winner will be picked using random.org).

As soon as we worked out all the details with Veggie U, I reached out to the chefs and owners to share the idea and ask for support. Almost immediately I started to hear back. The backing of our food community and willingness to work together to help all sorts of causes beyond this is inspiring, admirable and personally greatly appreciated by myself. Thank you to everyone for your generosity and willingness to pitch in.

One incredibly lucky diner will spend the year eating and drinking their way throughout Cleveland:

Western Reserve Wine / $50 gift card
Tartine / $50 gift card
Momocho / $50 gift card (Eric Williams also generously donated an additional $200 to fund one classroom)
Lola / $50 gift card
The Greenhouse Tavern / $50 gift card
Heinen’s / $100 gift card
Blue Canyon / $50 gift card
The Flying Fig / $100 gift card
Fire / $50 gift card
Erie Island Coffee / $50 gift card
Fahrenheit / $50 gift card
Miles Farmers Market / $50 gift card
Jekyll’s Kitchen / $50 gift card
Moxie / $200 gift card!!
Touch Supper Club / $50 gift card
Parallax / $50 gift card
L’Albatros / $50 gift card
Chinato / $50 gift card (now open)
Crop Bistro / $50 gift card
North End / $50 gift card
Hyde Park / $50 gift card
AMP 150 / $100 gift card
Muse (The Ritz-Carlton) / Farmer’s Market dinner for two
The Chocolate Bar / $50 gift card
Michaelangelo’s / $50 gift card
John Q’s Steakhouse / $50 gift card
Melange / $50 gift card
Bistro on Lincoln Park / $50 gift card
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And to top it all off, the winner will receive one ticket to their choice of upcoming dinners at The Culinary Vegetable Institute (you’re in for a real treat here) and The Chefs Garden will send you one of their e-commerce family boxes.

To kick it off, Jamie and I will donate $100 (we will not be counted for the drawing). Would you also consider making a pledge? I know times are tough for many, and if you can’t, it’s completely understandable. But if you’re able to give something back and if you’re a follower of this blog I can only assume it’s a greater cause that matters to you, please call. Let’s follow the lead of our chefs and local owners and show what the Cleveland food community can accomplish when we work together.

Thank You.

Update: Just learned that The Culinary Vegetable Institute will give a copy of the 2009 official cookbook of the Food & Wine Celebration to the first 40 people that donate $50 or more!

35 Comments

  1. Posted January 12, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    so many restaurants I need to try on that list! Count me in.

  2. steve
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Great Michelle! I just called in my pledge.

  3. Posted January 12, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Your readers are GREAT! AWESOME! WONDERFUL! INCREDIBLE! Response was almost immediate!

  4. rockandroller
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Done! Sending your post to some friends as well.

  5. Michelle V
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    You guys are great – thank you! Update: Just learned that The Culinary Vegetable Institute will give a copy of the 2009 official cookbook of the Food & Wine Celebration to the first 20 people that donate $50 or more!

  6. Carrie
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Great post! I’ll donate and spread the word.

  7. Posted January 12, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    WOW…great promo! I’ll be sure to donate and spread the word as well, and add it to my community spotlite!

  8. Posted January 12, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the help today Michelle.K&P made a donation along with my wife and I. Hope to catch up with you in person one of these days!
    David

  9. Michelle V
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Yay – Crop Bistro is now on board!

  10. Posted January 12, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Awesome job, Michelle! They said they’ve already received 15 callers with donations today!

  11. Erin Slater
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Michelle! I saw your post on Twitter. What a great cause. Just donated.

  12. Posted January 12, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    What a great cause to support, and that’s one hell of a deal! You can count on my donation, and I’ll help spread the word in any way that I can.

  13. Posted January 12, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I’m in! Great cause and I will RT!

  14. Posted January 12, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I copied your post into my blog! Thanks for your hard work on a great cause!

  15. Posted January 12, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Great post! Veggie U can truly impact a child’s attitude toward vegetables as well as their understanding of agriculture, not to mention their science grade! Plus, they get to grow and eat vegetables in their own classroom so it’s accessible and fun!!

    These lessons can lead to healthier people and a healthier planet for future generations. Glad to see Clevelanders’ support.

  16. Posted January 12, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Happy to spread the word on momslikeme. I’m sure my fellow mammas will support the cause!

  17. Posted January 12, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    Michelle,

    Is it too late to add another restaurant to the list?

    I would like to get a donation in there for North End.

    Jeff

  18. Michelle V
    Posted January 13, 2010 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Jacquie: Thanks for spreading the word among moms – I love the power of the mom!

    Jeff: It’s not too late, thank you so much for your donation! I just added you to the post and will be in touch soon.

  19. Posted January 13, 2010 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Yesterday was fabulous here at Veggie U. We had calls/donations from the time Michelle posted this until we left at 5pm. I apologize that we had to leave at 5 for anyone trying to get in touch after that. I have been asking callers to tell me their favorite restaurant and I have to say that I had great comments on every restaurant that donated. I can not wait to visit them all. Jim

  20. rockandroller
    Posted January 13, 2010 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Would love to get an update after the 2/13 deadline as to whether or not we were able to save the program, or partially fund it or what?

  21. Michelle V
    Posted January 13, 2010 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Absolutely – I’ll be sure to post how much money was raised and how many classrooms were helped!

  22. Posted January 13, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Hyde Park just donated a $50 gift card!

  23. Posted January 13, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    This was such a great idea Michelle! I went to their Food & Wine Celebration last summer and it was spectacular. Veggie U is such a great cause.

  24. Posted January 14, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    What a great promotion. I will be calling to donate as soon as I return from Saint Martin, unless there’s a way I can do it online?

  25. Jennie
    Posted January 15, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I read your blog all the time and am definitely a lifetime supporter of Cleveland.
    Instead of one person getting all 24 gift cards spread the love and give 24 people one gift card! :) I am sure any foodie entering the contest would be thrilled to win just one $50 gift card (or a $200 gift card, wow!) Give back a little to a lot of people who are giving to your great cause! (I think I am just jealous of that one person who is going to win ALL of those amazing giftcards hehe)

    That said, I am going to try anyway!

  26. Posted January 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I just phoned in my donation. What a great idea!! Thank you so much for doing this!

  27. Michelle V
    Posted January 15, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jennie – We actually were debating between your idea and the way it curently is when we came up with this idea. But in the end figured it might make mroe people donate if the total prize was a higher value. Hey – at least you have a chance to win all of this, I can’t :)

  28. Posted January 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    DROOOLLLLLL I will definitely enter. What an awesome organization! I feel bad I didn’t already know about them.

  29. Posted January 18, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    This is such a beautiful thing, you’re doing. As a college student, it pains me to see the kinds of foods that my peers eat and the stuff that passes off as food in the dining halls. I hope that this program expands to include all schools in the Cleveland area. And then hopefully spread the word across the country. I’ll be sure to donate to this wonderful cause!

  30. Jill
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for doing this for our CMSD kids. It is a really good program and the children love watching things grow. We love watching them grow, so it works out well for everyone.

  31. Mary
    Posted January 22, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    MIchelle,
    TOTALLY COOL!!!!! I teach 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in a local school district and I think what you are doing is awesome. We really do have wonderful people in Cleveland who are willing to give back! Things like this are what should be highlighted in the media about Cleveland. I just made my donation and I am going to be spreading the word in my school district. Thanks again for this great idea!

  32. Posted January 29, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    count me in…great cause!

  33. Stephanie
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    A great cause. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to make a donation. The gifts are a great plus!

  34. amy viny
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Tried to call but phone number is not working

  35. Posted February 8, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Amy – please try again, it’s working!! I just called. Thank you!

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