Whole Foods Market is pleased to announce the Whole Kids Foundation, a charitable organization that will provide children with access to healthy food choices through partnerships with schools, educators and organizations.

 By supporting 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.

The Foundation’s first major initiative will be the Whole Kids Garden Grant Project, a program that will enable schools to help build children’s relationships with food through the power of gardening.  All schools and garden-related nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply this fall for grants to support the implementation or expansion of on-campus teaching gardens.

“We are excited to formalize our commitment to improving childhood nutrition and wellness through our new Foundation,” said Walter Robb, Whole Foods Market co-CEO and Whole Kids Foundation board chairman. “By collaborating with schools and parents, we believe we can increase fruit and vegetable consumption both at schools and at home and make a significant contribution in the fight against childhood obesity.”

Whole Foods Market has been an advocate for school lunch reform and has supported healthy eating education for children for many years.  Past initiatives and partnerships that will remain areas of focus through the Whole Kids Foundation include:

-  Lunchbox.org: In 2009, Whole Foods Market and shoppers donated more than $700,000 to fund “The Lunchbox.org,” an online resource created by Chef Ann Cooper’s F3 Foundation, which helps public schools provide more nutritious lunches for kids. Launched in the 2010 school year, thelunchbox.org website offers free, comprehensive resources to help schools replace highly processed foods with fresh, natural, made-from-scratch foods in a realistic, cost-effective manner. 

-  Salad Bar Project and Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools:  In 2010, shoppers donated more than $1.4 million during a seven-week fundraising campaign to improve school lunches through the Salad Bar Project, which helped fund 570 salad bars in schools across the country. Whole Foods Market joined forces with F3 for a second year to help bring fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins to school lunch programs through an online grant process.  To make an even larger impact in lunchrooms across the country, Whole Foods Market also became a founding partner of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, whose goal is to provide 6,000 school salad bars across the nation by 2013.

-   School and store partnerships: Many of our stores have established relationships with local schools that range from school gardens and salad bars, to art competitions and food drives, to educational store tours and class visits by our Team Members. The Foundation will also invest in the health of teachers by providing nutrition and cooking education so that they can be the healthiest role models possible.

In addition to being a recent Salad Bar Project grant recipient, Brent Elementary School in Washington D.C. is an example of a school partnership our local P Street store has grown through Team Member support.  The school now serves school lunch menu items that meet the HealthierUS Schools Gold requirements, the new Institute of Medicine dietary standards and also features a healthy salad bar stocked with fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein.  “Adding a salad bar at Brent Elementary fit perfectly with the deep commitments the district has made to improve the quality of food we serve,” said Paula Reichel, Program Coordinator from D.C. Public School Office of Food & Nutrition Services. “The energy from the kids and parents around the salad bar was contagious.”

The Whole Kids Foundation is based in Austin, Texas, and operates as an independent, nonprofit organization with its own board of directors. For more information on the Foundation and how to apply for a school or community garden grant through the Whole Kids Garden Grant program, visit: wholekidsfoundation.org or e-mail info@wholekidsfoundation.org.