October 16, 2020

AZ Business Magazine

Sprouts donates $1.6M to boosts fresh food access amid pandemic

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. The Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, which focuses on nutrition education and fresh food access, today announced $1.6 million in donations to nonprofit partners addressing local issues amplified by the pandemic.

“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 Sprouts Healthy Communities 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. We are working hand-in-hand with many of our partners to make these important transitions possible.”

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, Ala. “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.

Watch a video of grant partners sharing how they have adapted their programs in response to COVID-19.

For a full list of Neighborhood Grant recipients by state, visit sprouts.com/neighborhoodgrants.

As school districts nationwide navigate distance learning and hybrid return-to-school models, outdoor educators and the physical spaces they support on campuses are proving to be an important asset. “Outdoor educators understand how to translate classroom concepts into engaging, hands-on experiential lessons,” explained John Fisher, director of outdoor education at Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Life Lab. “Now, instead of translating classroom to garden, outdoor educators across the country are helping their teacher counterparts bring school lessons to the home virtually, ensuring students are engaged in learning, which is critical in preventing students from falling behind. And, as schools reopen, outdoor learning spaces will provide teachers with additional spaces for small-group or split-class instruction.”

For a full list of existing and new High Impact Grant recipients, visit sprouts.com/foundation.

“Since 2015, we’ve awarded $12 million in grants to a broad network of nonprofit organizations that are now on the frontlines of educating and feeding people impacted by the pandemic,” said Waugh. “Their efforts are inspiring, and the effects of their work will be long-lasting, particularly as we all work together to capture the learnings and innovation sparked by COVID-19 and use that knowledge to strengthen local fresh food access for the future.”

Sprouts covers 100 percent of the Foundation’s operational expenses, ensuring that every dollar raised is used to support their nonprofit partner agencies. To learn more, visit sprouts.com/foundation.