Children outside holding baskets of produce

Q&A with the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation

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Founded in 2015, the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation focuses on empowering individuals, especially children, to live healthier lives by partnering with nonprofits that broaden access to nutrition education and fresh, nutritious food. Through its Neighborhood Grants, the Foundation supports organizations in communities surrounding Sprouts stores that work to make healthy living accessible through youth programs, community education, learning gardens and more.

Now through May 31, qualified organizations may apply for a neighborhood grant online. The Foundation’s Executive Director, Lyndsey Waugh, shares some insights into the Neighborhood Grants program and what stands out among the hundreds of applications the Foundation receives each year.

How has the Neighborhood Grant program evolved since it was launched in 2016?
Lyndsey Waugh:
The Neighborhood Grant program has expanded since its launch in 2016, keeping in sync with the overall growth of Sprouts. During the 2016 grant cycle, we awarded 54 nonprofit organizations with grants, totaling $400,000. As our team members and customers have seen the impact of this funding in their own communities, program support has only gotten stronger. Thanks to the generous donations from Sprouts, our customers, team members and vendors, we expect to award more than $600,000 to 100 deserving nonprofits this year, working to advance children’s nutrition education and nutrition access in communities coast to coast.

What do you look for in a Neighborhood Grant applicant?
LW: The mission of our Foundation is to drive lasting change in the health of the communities where Sprouts team members live, work, and play. Specifically, we aim to empower children with the access, knowledge, tools, confidence and desire to make healthy food choices across their lifespan.  To say it simply, we want to help the next generation grow up to become healthy adults! As we review the grant applications in the coming weeks, we’ll be looking for organizations whose programs and mission align with our own. Selected organizations often offer hands-on experience for kids to learn about, grow, and prepare fresh fruits and veggies.

Many of last year’s grant recipients have programs that address childhood nutrition and access to healthy food. What’s the most creative program you’ve seen?
LW:
All of our grant recipients have been both creative and resourceful; however, one program that stands out is C.H.O.I.C.E.S. (Center for Helping Obesity in Children End Successfully) in Atlanta. Our funding supported their Cooking with C.H.O.I.C.E.S. program, which uses hands-on cooking instruction to teach children age 8 and older how to prepare their own meals. The three-week program incorporates planning healthy meals on a budget and mindfulness training to help children and their families understand choice-making when it comes to food and nutrition. And, even more exciting, the program is offered to families for free, removing the cost barrier from participation!

What are some of the Foundation’s major vendor supporters?
LW:
We’re fortunate to have an amazing group of donors supporting the work of the Foundation and, in turn, the work of our nonprofit partners. Many of the trusted brands that you see on shelves at Sprouts contribute directly to our work, and you can find a full list of Donors on our website. Companies such as Amplify Snack Brands, General Mills, Taylor Farms, and a few others have supported us at the Visionary Level every year since 2015.

What’s the driving success of the Neighborhood Grant program?
LW:
Outside of our stores, Sprouts works to be a good neighbor by supporting our communities to make health and wellness more accessible. We used this approach while developing our Neighborhood Grant program – the application is easy, and it is designed in a way that grassroots and mid-size organizations can apply and receive funding. Our team members have been instrumental in the growth of the Neighborhood Grants since the beginning by educating guests about our programs in the stores, volunteering out in the community and inviting customers to donate to our annual in-store Round-Up for Children’s Health and Nutrition program. They’re truly ambassadors of the difference these grants make in their communities!