Whole Kids Foundation in Austin, Texas, has raised more than $113,000 to fund 56 new bee grants through the 2019 Give Bees a Chance campaign during June’s National Pollinator Month. The month-long fundraising effort supported the organization’s Bee Grant Program, which provides schools and nonprofits with beehives to help kids understand the important role bees play in our food system.
Five chefs from across the U.S. joined forces with the foundation to host bee-inspired fundraising dinners in Oakland, Houston and Atlanta. Participating chefs at the Oakland dinner included: Melissa King, a finalist for Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” season 12, who trained at Michelin-rated restaurants; Tu David Phu, a featured contestant of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” season 15; and Laura Monge, executive pastry chef at Luce in San Francisco. Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC Davis, also spoke at the dinner to highlight the importance of pollinators to the evening’s meal.
Executive Chef Mark Schmidt presented the sold-out dinner at Houston’s legendary Rainbow Lodge along with owner and beekeeper Donnette Hansen. Anne Quatrano, the chef/owner of Bacchanalia, who also oversees the Star Provisions group, which includes several acclaimed restaurants, hosted the sold-out dinner in Atlanta.
“Recently we’ve seen more chefs, industry leaders and farmers mobilizing to bring attention to the importance of bees for our food supply,” said Quatrano. “There’s much at stake without pollination from bees—they are vital to the growth of many fruits and vegetables.”
Schools that host educational beehives use them as an effective tool in teaching STE(A)M—science, technology, engineering, art and math—including topics like the connection between plants and animals, life stages, scientific illustration and symmetry.
Whole Kids Foundation supplier partners contributed $91,750 to the campaign this year. Once Upon a Farm and Horizon Organic were lead sponsors and were joined by Cascadian Farm, KIND Snacks and Honest Tea. Actress, urban beekeeper and co-founder of Once Upon a Farm, Jennifer Garner, supported the campaign encouraging followers to keep our planet pollinated. Together, corporate donors funded 45 educational beehive grants to inspire the next generation to learn the important role pollinators play in the foods we eat and how we can protect them.
“We are so grateful to our chef partners, to the more than 200 bee dinner attendees, to our donors and to the generous sponsors who made this year’s Give Bees a Chance campaign a success,” said Nona Evans, president and executive director of Whole Kids Foundation. “These funds will provide thousands of kids with opportunities to understand, engage and learn from bees. Ultimately, we believe these experiences will encourage kids to take an active role in protecting the natural world around them.”
Because Whole Foods Market covers all of the foundation’s operational costs, 100 percent of every dollar donated though corporate contributions and private donations directly supports the Bee Grant Program.
Since 2014, Whole Kids Foundation has granted more than 400 educational beehives with support from The Bee Cause Project, our co-partner in this program providing consultation, resources and curriculum to schools.