The Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, which focuses on nutrition education and fresh food access, will donate $1.6 million to nonprofit partners addressing local issues amplified by the pandemic — the latest example of food retailers stepping up to help during this extraordinary year.
According to Sprouts, as schools and students across the country adapt to new ways of learning, community efforts to create a more equitable food system are gaining momentum.
"Five years ago, we established the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation to increase our ability to support local organizations that share our vision of bringing healthy, nutritious food to all," said Lyndsey Waugh, executive director of the foundation. “These organizations have taken tremendous steps to adapt their programs amidst COVID-19, redirecting efforts to support the immediate need of the children and communities they serve right now, and exploring new and innovative ways to deliver programming virtually.”
School and community gardens are ramping up their growing and food distribution efforts, providing local residents with greater access to healthy food during the pandemic.
"When our student-centered teaching farms felt the impact of COVID-19, we knew we had to pivot and we had to do it quickly," said Amanda Storey, executive director of the Jones Valley Teaching Farm, in Birmingham, Alabama. “With support from our school partners and from funders like Sprouts, we turned our teaching farms into production farms and began distributing free produce and seedlings to our local community, resulting in over 15,000 pounds of fresh vegetables being distributed since April.”
This year, Sprouts' foundation will award 120 grants to nonprofit organizations in the 23 states where the company operates, including 113 Neighborhood Grants and seven High Impact Grants designed to help partners strengthen and expand their programs, totaling $1.6 million.
Neighborhood Grant recipients are:
- 18 Reasons (San Francisco): The Cooking Matters at Home program will provide fresh groceries and six-week virtual cooking classes to 120 kids and parents through the fall/spring school year.
- American Heart Association (Phoenix): The Fresh Connections program will provide 400 food-insecure children with locally grown, fresh produce, distributed through assembled take-home bags this fall.
- Captain Planet Foundation (Atlanta): Project Giving Garden will grow, harvest and distribute produce to up to 1,000 families weekly through the collaborative effort of Captain Planet Foundation and metro Atlanta's more than 400 school and community gardens.
- Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina (Charlotte, North Carolina): The Healthy School Mobile Pantries for Food-Insecure Families travels to high-need elementary schools and will provide an estimated 3,200 individuals access to fresh produce, meat and dairy during the fall/spring school year.
High Impact Grant recipients are:
- National School Garden Support Organization (SGSO) Network Life Lab (Nationwide), COVID-19 Response Programming: SGSO Network, the nation's largest peer-to-peer learning network for school garden educators, is offering an expanded lineup of virtual gatherings, webinars and resources to help school garden organizations deliver distance teaching, provide social and emotional support to students, and care for garden sites during COVID-19.
- Jones Valley Teaching Farm, Good School Food Virtual Experience: The food-based learning organization offering community farming at seven schools will distribute produce to local food -insecure families and offer virtual after-school programs that bring cooking and nutrition education to elementary school students at home.
- Partners for Education, Agriculture and Sustainability (Austin, Texas): The grant will support the creation of a new professional development program for teachers and of a summer camp, and expand the capacity of the organization's new youth teaching kitchen.
Phoenix-based Sprouts, which employs more than 35,000 team members at 340-plus stores in 23 states, is No. 45 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.