Whole Kids Foundation supports schools and inspires families to improve children’s nutrition and wellness. Given the right opportunities, kids will get excited about fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other nutritious whole foods. The organization helps kids learn to love fresh, nutritious, whole foods; increases access to and consumption of these foods in schools; inspires families to prepare and share these foods at home; and encourages community action that supports healthier kids. Whole Kids Foundation also creates support tools for educators, who play a vital role in modeling and teaching healthy choices. Whole Kids provides schools with salad bar equipment and training, provides grants for educational and edible school gardens and bee hives, and offers cooking, wellness and nutrition education for school teachers and food service staff.
Whole Foods Market's underwriting of the administrative expense for Whole Kids Foundation is valued at $1.2 million. Additionally, Whole Kids Foundation is afforded the opportunity to partner with Whole Foods Market stores to raise awareness and funds each year. During the September 2018 campaign, $2.4 million was raised from Whole Foods Market shoppers to support grants in all 50 U.S. states as well as across all provinces in Canada and the U.K. Whole Foods Market supplier partners committed an additional $1.2 million to support the organization's work.
Whole Kids Foundation aims to support schools in creating a whole, healthy environment in which to learn. That work is accomplished through grant and education programs as well as multi-sector collaborations aimed at making the most of every partner's resources. The organization has both remained focused on its core programs (salad bars in schools, gardens and bee hive grants, healthy teachers training) and sought out innovation including supporting the first certified organic school farm, an award-winning student-led, vegetable-based bakery program that is now building its own commercial kitchen, and the development of a garden-to-cafeteria toolkit that is being implemented by entire states to guide schools on utilizing school garden produce directly to school menus and offerings.
To date, Whole Kids Foundation has served nearly 6 million kids through partnerships with more than 12,000 schools since 2011. The foundation has also funded 5,388 school salad bars, 4,826 school gardens, 270 bee hives and health and wellness education for 15,392 teachers. Additionally, the team has partnered with nearly a dozen schools districts making the transition from using processed food to scratch cooking. In the seven years since Whole Kids Foundation began, current research has supported the organization's work: Salad bars have been shown to be the #1 way to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among kids at school (Pew Research Study), school gardens are increasing the number of new foods kids are willing to eat regularly (multiple studies), and nutritious school lunch has been linked (UC Berkeley) to improved academic performance. With stats such as 1 in 3 children born in the US will battle obesity, plus 30 million kids in the US eat school lunch every day, and the fact that 93% of children DON'T eat enough vegetables (Chef Ann Foundation), Whole Kids Foundation work is more important than ever.
"The Whole Kids team has brilliantly leveraged modest resources to make real and lasting impact. I count Whole Kids among the company’s best accomplishments. It's so exciting to see kids developing healthy eating habits early in life. It's one of the most important things we can do to affect the health of our nation," -- John Mackey, Whole Foods Market, Founder & CEO