Posted on May 26, 2020 by Sustainable Food News

Whole Foods nonprofit promotes hydroponics at U.S. schools

Just 2% of children eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, says Whole Kids Foundation

Whole Foods Market’s Whole Kids Foundation (WKF) said one of its partners – nonprofit Lettuce Grow – is donating 125 hydroponic growing systems and supplies, which cost $1,000 each, to K-12 schools and school garden-support organizations across the United States.

Austin, Texas-based WKF, a nonprofit foundation established in 2011 by the world’s largest organic and natural grocery chain, reported last month that $1.7 million is being awarded for 550 edible educational gardens to schools and nonprofits nationwide, serving more than 260,000 students.

For those applicants that weren’t funded for a garden grant this year, Lettuce Grow is providing hydroponic growing systems, called Farmstands, providing an additional 125 schools and nonprofits supporting children’s programming, to grow fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs and use gardening as a learning tool.

“Whole Kids Foundation is built on a spirit of collaboration, and over the years, we have learned that partnerships can be a catalyst for meaningful and innovative change in children’s nutrition,” said Tristana Pirkl, WKF’s edible education leader.

School gardens are becoming an increasingly common educational tool. They are shown to improve children’s academic performance and behavior at school and improve their attitudes about and appreciation for the environment. Experiential learning, which is learning by doing, also helps kids understand concepts in a real work context.

Just two percent of children eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, but kids who have a hand in growing food have increased nutrition knowledge and an increased willingness to try, and a preference for, vegetables and fruits, according to studies.

Lettuce Grow’s self-watering, self-fertilizing hydroponic Farmstands will allow recipients to chose from more than 200 varieties of vegetables, fruits and herbs to grow in the unique vertical gardens. The Farmstands are designed to save time and space, with only a few minutes required for maintenance and harvesting each week.

“Lettuce Grow is committed to improving access to fresh, healthy food for everyone, regardless of income,” said Jacob Pechenik, Lettuce Grow co-founder. “Through our ongoing partnership with Whole Kids Foundation, we are working together to encourage community action, preserve the environment for future generations and create a better food system for all.”

Since 2019, Lettuce Grow has worked with Whole Kids Foundation through its 1-for-10 Partnership to grant one Farmstand to K-12 schools and community organizations for every 10 sold.

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