Whole Kids Foundation is kicking off back-to-school season with a goal of raising $3 million to fund salad bars and gardens for schools and nutrition education classes for teachers.
The effort is part of the foundation’s annual campaign aimed at raising awareness around the importance of childhood nutrition and helping schools provide healthier food choices for students. Throughout September, Whole Foods Market stores will host a variety of educational and interactive fundraising events and shoppers can also get involved by making a donation at store check-outs or online at wholekidsfoundation.org.
“Well-nourished kids miss fewer days of school and are better able to pay attention in class, improving academic performance, and as Whole Kids Foundation celebrates its third anniversary, we’re excited to see visible results from our work,” said Nona Evans, executive director of Whole Kids Foundation. “School salad bars are getting kids excited about school lunches and eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and school gardens are not only connecting kids to the roots of their food and how nutrition helps their bodies, they are increasing their curiosity around trying new foods.”
Each of the following Growing Healthy Kids supplier partners has pledged to donate $40,000 to support the foundation’s work: Annie’s, Applegate, Cascadian Farm, Lady Moon Farms, Lug Life, Organic Valley, Roots, Rudi’s Organic Bakery and Suja. During this year’s campaign, many of these brands in addition to others, including Health Warrior, Honest Kids, Horizon Organic, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day and Vega will donate a portion of proceeds from product sales at Whole Foods Market stores to benefit Whole Kids Foundation programs.
A recent study of the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign in partnership with the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition found that salad bars increased students’ access to fresh fruits and vegetables, increased student participation in the school lunch program, reduced plate waste and are complemented by other health promotion activities in school.
Recent studies have found that gardens play a key role in improving children’s knowledge, understanding and curiosity about whole foods. Having funded more than 2,000 gardens to date, schools can apply for a grant through the foundation’s School Garden Grant Program, which was created in partnership with FoodCorps, from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31 in the U.S. and from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30 in Canada.
Rooted in three simple principles—eat a rainbow of colors, eat leafy greens first and eat as close to nature as possible—Whole Kids Foundation offers a variety of resources for parents and children to make healthier choices at home ranging from book club suggestions and “Better Bites” lessons to hands-on art projects and a free app, Awesome Eats.
Since its inception in 2011, the foundation has invested $10,000,000 into its programs funding more than 3,400 salad bars and 2,110 school gardens, giving more than 3 million children access to healthier food.