On Saturday, Sept. 23, an estimated 500 Sprouts associates across the country will gather to build 24 school gardens in 24 hours.
The Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation will provide schools across the country with a new or refreshed learning garden as part of the 24 Gardens in 24 Hours in 24 Communities contest, which launched in April to mark Earth Month. The schools were chosen from a pool of more than 3,000 nominations by Sprouts customers, following a three-month process involving interviews and thorough vetting.
On Saturday, Sept. 23, an estimated 500 Sprouts associates across the country will gather to build the 24 school gardens in 24 hours. The grocer’s company-wide volunteer service days have resulted in associates’ donating more than 10,000 service hours over the past five years.
“Sprouts is committed to providing children with hands-on educational experiences that shape how they think about food,” said Sprouts President and COO Nick Konat. “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. 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.”
The foundation will also fund training for educators at each school to learn how to effectively incorporate the garden into teaching practices across all grade levels. A partnership with Burlington, Vt.-based national nonprofit KidsGardening will enable the schools to become part of a learning community where teachers responsible for the gardens will receive continuing technical assistance and mentoring for the full 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,” noted Lyndsey Waugh, executive director of the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation. “These schools represent 24 incredible communities, comprised 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.”
The winning schools are in 23 states in Sprouts communities: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.
Garden Giveaway winners will receive the following:
A $15,000-$20,000 garden construction grant awarded directly to the school to build a new learning garden or refresh an existing garden on campus.
A $5,000 program grant to support nutrition education lessons in the garden.
The Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation will partner with each winning school to coordinate a volunteer workday for the garden build or garden refresh on Saturday, Sept. 23.
Continuing professional development and one-to-one support to sustain a learning garden program.
In April 2022, Sprouts, a longtime proponent of school gardens, held its inaugural Growing School Gardens Summit, in Denver. Hosted by the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, the first-ever national gathering focused entirely on school gardens united more than 400 educators and leaders from across the country working to sustain school garden programs at the school, regional and national levels.
Since 2015, the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation has donated more than $18 million to further nutrition education and facilitate access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and this year alone, 3 million-plus children are expected to take part in nutrition education and garden-based learning programs funded by Sprouts.