AUSTIN, Texas (Aug. 17, 2011) — Whole Foods Market® to hold donation drive to fund gardening opportunities for children
Whole Kids Foundation in partnership with FoodCorps is now accepting online grant applications for its first major initiative, the School Garden Grant Program, which will be funded by a six-week, in-store donation drive at all Whole Foods Market stores, and online at wholekidsfoundation.org, from Aug. 17 to Sept. 30.
Created to help schools grow students' relationships with food through gardening, the new program stems from the nonprofit's mission of supporting schools' efforts to improve children's nutrition. Through the Whole Kids School Garden Grant Program, the Foundation and partner FoodCorps will offer $2,000 grants, along with curriculum, resources and mentorship, to 1,000 schools. FoodCorps' expertise in gardening, and its ongoing support will help schools build and sustain their gardens to ensure long-term success. All schools and garden-related nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for grants to support the launch or expansion of school gardens.
"The School Garden Grant Program makes nutritious foods and healthy-eating education relevant and exciting for kids, and it extends learning outside the classroom," said Walter Robb, Whole Foods Market co-CEO and Whole Kids Foundation board chairman. "Gardens are such a magical place. As kids see plants growing and coming to life and they realize that food doesn't come out of a box or off a truck, but that it comes out of the ground from a seed, it makes relationship between food and nourishment real."
According to research done at the UC Davis Center for Nutrition in Schools, access to a school garden:
- Improves knowledge of nutrition, food preferences, and consumption of fruits and vegetables
- Allows for the integration of multiple subject areas
- Enhances overall academic achievement
- Provides children with an understanding of agriculture and the environment
- Improves life skills, self-esteem, social skills and behavior
From now through September, shoppers can donate to the project at store checkouts or online through wholekidsfoundation.org. In addition to $2,000, each grant recipient will receive a copy of "How to Grow a School Garden" by Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel Pringle, and a digital garden kit that includes an online resource center, discounts for gardening supplies from various partners, and ongoing opportunities for mentoring and support from FoodCorps. The Foundation will be accepting grant applications through Dec. 31, 2011, and recipients will be notified in February 2012.
The garden grants will be awarded to local schools, districts and garden-related nonprofit organizations through an online grant process, which will be administered by the Whole Kids Foundation and FoodCorps. To apply, each school must secure a community partner that will help them sustain a long-term garden. The school must also provide basic background information, including a photo of its garden site, proposed budget and timeline for the project, goals for the garden and an explanation of how students will be engaged.
"FoodCorps is thrilled to partner with Whole Kids Foundation to provide more children an opportunity to discover the joys of growing food, in turn establishing lifelong healthy-eating habits," said Curt Ellis, Executive Director of FoodCorps.
Whole Kids Foundation is based in Austin, Texas, and operates as an independent, nonprofit organization. By empowering schools and inspiring families, the Foundation aims to help children reach optimal health through the strength of a healthy body fueled by nutritious food choices.
For more information on the Foundation, ways parents can engage their schools, and how to apply for a school garden grant, visit: wholekidsfoundation.org.
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About Whole Foods Market®
Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com, NASDAQ: WFM) is the leading natural and organic food retailer. As America's first national certified organic grocer, Whole Foods Market was named "America's Healthiest Grocery Store" by Health magazine. The company's motto "Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet"™ captures its mission to ensure customer satisfaction and health, Team Member excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value, community support and environmental improvement. Thanks to the company's nearly 60,000 Team Members, Whole Foods Market has been ranked as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" in America by FORTUNE magazine for 14 consecutive years. In fiscal year 2010, the company had sales of more than $9 billion and currently has more than 300 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
FoodCorps is a national nonprofit that seeks to reverse childhood obesity by increasing children's knowledge of, engagement with and access to healthy food. The centerpiece of its work is an AmeriCorps public service program that recruits young leaders for a year of service in high-obesity, limited-resource communities of need. Service members build and tend school gardens, conduct hands-on nutrition education and facilitate Farm to School programming that brings high quality, local food into schools.