Two dozen schools in 23 states across the U.S. will receive a new or refreshed learning garden as part of Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation’s “24 Gardens in 24 Hours in 24 Communities” contest.
Launched in April to celebrate Earth Month, the three-month process drew more than 3,000 nominations from customers. A list of the 24 recipients can be found at sprouts.com/schoolgardenwinners.
On Sept. 23, some 500 Sprouts employees across the country will join together to install the 24 school gardens in 24 hours. Company-wide volunteer service days have become an annual tradition for the grocer, whose employees have donated more than 10,000 service hours over the last five years.
“Sprouts is committed to providing children with hands-on educational experiences that shape how they think about food. We believe that our foundation’s efforts to make these connections will play a pivotal role for children to develop an understanding of the importance of healthy eating,” said Nick Konat, president and COO.
“We are also very excited for our team members to give back to their local communities on Sept. 23 as we build these learning gardens in 24 hours.”
In addition to $15,000-20,000 to fund the physical garden spaces, the foundation will also provide a $5,000 grant for training educators at each school to learn how to incorporate the garden into teaching practices across all grade levels.
By teaming-up with KidsGardening, a national nonprofit focused on this work, each of the schools will become part of a learning community, where teachers responsible for the garden space will receive ongoing technical assistance and mentoring for the school year.
“This program is exciting because we are able to invite our customers to help us connect with new schools through the nomination process,” said Lyndsey Waugh, executive director of the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation.
“These schools represent 24 incredible communities, composed of teachers and students, that will now have access to an outdoor garden, where classroom lessons can be brought to life through hands-on learning, and where students can experience the magic of watching seeds sprout, and fresh fruits and vegetables grow. We are glad we can play a role in making this possible.”
“Sprouts is a true partner who listens and understands what it takes to operate a successful garden program – and investing in teacher training and compensation for educators operating their garden spaces is the key ingredient to building effective and sustainable school garden programs,” said Em Shipman, executive director of KidsGardening.
Since its inception in 2015, the foundation has awarded $18 million to more than 400 nonprofit partners focused on advancing children’s nutrition education and school-based gardening programs. This year, more than 3 million students across the U.S. will benefit from programs supported by Sprouts.