Sponsor Highlight: TCF Bank

This past April, Big Green Chicago held the Big Green Gala supporting the Chicago 200 Learning Garden Initiative, presented by TCF Bank (TCF).

We are so thankful to our friends at TCF for helping make our mission a reality. We asked them why they chose to support Big Green.

“At TCF, all of our team members focus on giving back to the communities where we do business,” said Jim Pape, TCF Bank’s vice president of Commercial Banking in Illinois and Wisconsin. “Many young people who grow up in urban environments believe vegetables come from a grocery store. While that is true, Big Green helps kids learn by planting seeds and caring for them as they grow into vegetables they can eat or sell. This process energizes and empowers young people to learn and make better food choices, especially in neighborhoods that are food deserts.”

Pape shared that he grew up in an urban city surrounded by concrete and that his father’s vegetable garden had a lasting impact on him, “My dad created a garden and filled it in with dirt. We grew corn, tomatoes, peppers and we would pick and eat them. Through that garden, I experienced a new way to see life. Insects would start coming around and the place felt different, it felt alive. We as kids loved it.” Pape shared that going to the Learning Gardens and seeing the kids’ excitement to learn and get their hands dirty reminded him of his childhood, “I can see that they love it the same way I did. My childhood experience with gardening is one of the primary reasons I support Big Green.”

Big Green focuses on growing real food in the Learning Gardens and we were curious what the term meant to Pape: “By learning and growing their own real food, communities thrive with healthier food options and profitable businesses are created for urban farmers. That’s how real food can empower people.”

Pape is looking forward to expanding TCF’s involvement in the Learning Gardens and has a goal of doubling volunteer hours with Big Green by involving team members from its community banking branches.

Thank you, TCF Bank for your support. And, thank you for helping us connect Chicago kids to real food through a nationwide network of Learning Gardens and food literacy programs.