Travel Brand Contiki Working to MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® With Local Bronx Hero

Stephen Ritz, founder of Green Bronx Machine © Courtesy of the TreadRight Foundation

"I fight for children who are born in places most people would not want to be caught dead in.” This is Stephen Ritz’s mission and Green Bronx Machine is his vessel.

In the heart of the Bronx, where food deserts are a common phenomenon and the nearest fresh produce can be at least 30 minutes away, Green Bronx Machine is addressing the issue systemically. The TreadRight Foundation, the not-for-profit arm of global travel provider The Travel Corporation (TTC), has partnered with Green Bronx Machine to support their efforts towards sustainable urban agriculture, and the education and empowerment of the community’s future: its underprivileged youth.

Green Bronx Machine is a non-profit organization at the forefront of addressing a growing and urgent issue facing many underserved communities in America—
the critical need for health education and accessibility to healthy food for students in low-income areas.

The indoor gardening curriculum was founded by lifelong educator Stephen Ritz, who this year was named a 2022 Best in Bronx Award winner via the Bronx Times. The organization addresses education through better health by developing an indoor gardening curriculum that allows children to grow vegetables in the classroom, helping them eat better, be more engaged with school and give them pathways for jobs.

Photo © Courtesy of The Treadright Foundation

Sustainable food production is a priority that goes beyond philanthropy for TTC through its climate action efforts. A family of 40 award-winning brands including Insight Vacations, Trafalgar, Contiki, Red Carnation Hotels, and Uniworld river cruises, TTC takes travelers on guided vacations all around the world, while working diligently to ensure that travel has a positive impact on both the visitors, and the places, people, and wildlife that are visited.

Increasing its local and organic food supply chain, and decreasing food waste, are two of the group’s 11 measurable goals in its five-year sustainability strategy, How We Tread Right. As part of its MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience program, TTC provides immersive and impactful experiences, which both educate travelers and support local organizations. On Contiki’s New York to Miami, New York Uncovered, as well as Best of USA trips, guests will have the chance to make their travels meaningful with a visit to Green Bronx Machine.

In Green Bronx Machine’s newly released mini-documentary via Food Inspiration, Ritz sits down with New York Mayor Eric Adams to discuss the many incredible impacts of the program. As Ritz and his students have observed, physical health and educational engagement and opportunities are directly linked.

Without proper nutrition and a balanced diet, school performance suffers, and hope and ambition become minimized. Originally an alternative after-school program for high school students, it has now evolved into a K – 12+ model fully integrated into core curriculum, reaching 50,000 students daily across the U.S. and has enabled students to harvest more than 165,000 pounds of vegetables in the Bronx for communities.

“I am determined to pay it forward and love and support as many students and teachers as possible rooted in the belief that from our humble corner of the globe, we just might change the world!” Ritz said.

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