Stephen Ritz is already getting national attention, from the likes of Michelle Obama no less, for teaching students how to grow veggies ... and he's being called a hero for how that food was used during the pandemic.
The best-selling author, public school teacher and founder of Green Bronx Machine joined us Friday on "TMZ Live" and explained ... his students do learn how to grow their own food and cook.
But, Stephen says his program also teaches them other skills ... like reading, writing, math and how to engage with emerging opportunities.
The students are already making a difference in their community ... Stephen says they grew 5,000 pounds of food in his classroom alone during the pandemic, and a total of 100,000 pounds in schools across the country.
He says it all went to local communities struggling with food insecurity.
Stephen says his students are making their neighborhoods and themselves better. It starts in the garden -- but the plants help the kids grow, fueling them to make their schools and environments a better place for all.
You can't argue with the program's success ... or Stephen's energy, which was on full display during our chat.