School Gardens Shown to Help Kids Make Healthier Food Choices, Learn Where Their Food Comes From & Become Veggie Curious
AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Kids Foundation, a nonprofit focused on children’s nutrition and wellness, announced today that 602 garden grants will be awarded to schools and school garden-support organizations to sustain edible education gardens.
The $1.2 million investment will serve 457,021 students by providing $2,000 grants in 48 U.S. States and 9 Canadian provinces. School gardens provide hands-on experiential learning that ties into every common core subject from math to science to art.
The Whole Kids Foundation School Garden Grant program provides the grants to K-12 schools to support edible gardens on school grounds. Nonprofit recipients supporting children’s programming are funded to place gardens in non-school environments such as community gardens, libraries, museums or after-school programs.
“Through our Garden Grant program, schools and nonprofit organizations transform outdoor spaces into vibrant hands-on outdoor classrooms that connect kids with food, spark their curiosity, and inspire them to make healthier choices for meals and snacks,” said Tristana Pirkl, Outdoor Education Leader for Whole Kids Foundation. “We truly believe in gardens as powerful learning spaces for nutrition, wellness and for all subjects!”
Gardens are becoming an increasingly common educational tool and for good reason: school gardens are shown to improve children’s academic performance and behavior at school and improve their attitudes about and appreciation for the environment. Experiential learning, learning by doing, also helps kids understand concepts in a real work context.
Additionally, only two percent of children eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, but children who have a hand in growing food are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and to be more knowledgeable about nutrition.
Edible education gardens inspire children’s curiosity and help develop healthy eating habits at a young age that can affect their entire family’s eating habits.
“Curiosity is what we think of as our secret weapon,” said Nona Evans, President and Executive Director of Whole Kids Foundation. “When kids get to grow their own food, that’s when curiosity kicks in. What science tells us is that when kids grow any food, their willingness to try other foods just opens up. If we can help kids become aware and understand the connection between what they put in their bodies and how they feel, then we get their curiosity and they will go anywhere.”
Over the past eight years, Whole Kids Foundation has awarded funding for more than 5,400 gardens, investing $10.8 million and benefiting 3.4 million students.
Whole Kids Foundation accepts garden grant applications each year from September 1 – October 15. Grant notifications are made in February of the following year. In order to be eligible, you must be an accredited school or nonprofit organization that works with kids in any grade range K-12 to grow fruits and vegetables. Check out the online Garden Resource Center for guidance on how to build a successful school garden or check out our success stories for examples on how past recipients have implemented innovative educational gardens.
Additionally, Whole Kids Foundation offers activities, book recommendations, worksheets and resources online to inspire families to make and enjoy healthier food choices at www.wholekidsfoundation.org/parents-families. A free interactive tablet app designed for children is available for kids to discover the importance of healthy soil and see first-hand the harmonious roles that plants, animals and people play in keeping soil balanced so that organic food can grow. The Starting with Soil app is available for download free at the App Store and Google Play.
For more information on the Whole Kids Foundation Garden Grant program, visit www.wholekidsfoundation.org/programs/school-gardens-grant.
About Whole Kids Foundation®
Whole Kids Foundation supports schools and inspires families to improve children’s nutrition and wellness. Founded by Whole Foods Market in 2011, the independent, nonprofit organization is based in Austin, Texas and serves schools and organizations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. For more information on the Foundation’s school programs including school gardens, salad bars, bee hives and nutrition education for teachers, visit wholekidsfoundation.org. For more information, visit wholekidsfoundation.org. For ongoing news and updates, follow Whole Kids Foundation on Facebook or Twitter at @WholeKidsFnd.
Cathy Cochran-Lewis, Communications Director