Hip Veggies, founded in 2012, is an educational collaboration between artists and food professionals that aims to promote locally grown produce, support local artists, and raise awareness of and support local hunger relief organizations.
Monika M. Woolsey, MS, RD, the founder of Hip Veggies, is a registered dietitian and exercise physiologist with 34 years of experience in nutrition and fitness counseling. Successfully counseling women on the benefits of a healthy diet challenged Woolsey to expand her promotion of healthy food choices in a way that made eating fruits and vegetables exciting.
“I’ve always believed that one big reason people don’t eat more fruits and vegetables is that their growers do not have the marketing budgets of large food brands,” explained Woolsey. “I’ve also noticed through my work in supporting the arts, that creative people do enjoy food and drink. I realized, for them, it’s just another art medium, and decided to team up both groups in a way that simultaneously addresses several community needs.”
A portion of sales from all Hip Veggies projects, is invested in socially entrepreneurial projects that address hunger.
Awards and Recognition
Monika is fluent in English and Spanish and has been recognized by the media for her inclusive campaigns that reach out to all of the cultures that weave her community together. Her own family represents several world cultures; learning to appreciate other cultures and their approaches to relationships, and food, was an important part of her upbringing.
2013 — Nominated for “Best New Program” by the Stylos Awards
2013–Monika was awarded the first-ever “Chile Pepper Queen” title by the Roosevelt Row Merchants Association.
2014–Through her bilingual classes with Ranch Market, she helped the community, regardless of language preference, learn the centuries-old tradition of making tamales. Over 3,000 tamales!
2016–In recognition of her work promoting indigenous and heirloom foods, Monika was one of 100 culinary professionals in Phoenix honored with the Tastemaker Award by the Phoenix New Times. She was the only dietitian to be included on this list.
Monika is known for her commitment to integrity, her passion for learning and teaching, and inclusive service to her community. While she pursues all of these with intensity, it is important to her to never forget that Hip Veggies is what she does, not who she is. Taking the work but not herself seriously, is an important characteristic she aspires to, and that allows for the kind of relationship building that creates community connections and trust.
Current clients and collaborations include
Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Organization — Team nutritionist, player development. Bilingual nutrition education and support for approximately 150 players from at least 12 different culinary cultures (number changes with every player trade, this is the average).
Crooked Sky Farms — Weekly review of the Community Supported Agriculture box, with a blog post for customers, curating recipes for them to help them learn to use locally grown (and often heirloom) vegetables.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum — Quarterly article for Arboretum members, themed around native and local foods
Cesar Chavez Leadership Academy Garden Project — Our current focus on hunger relief. A garden at this school in South Phoenix, designed to teach early elementary students and their families the skills they can use to increase their food security (seed saving, drip irrigation, composting, etc.) and contribution to a sustainable community.