PHOENIX – May 19, 2021 – Last month, in celebration of National Garden Month, the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation and the School Garden Support Organization (SGSO) Network hosted a first-ever, virtual school garden-based learning event, connecting schools nationwide. The event, named Growing School Gardens: Seeding a Healthy Future for Our Youth, reached 30,000 students in more than 25 states and included digital lessons on how school gardens are advancing nutrition and environmental literacy, STEM education and social-emotional wellness.
“The virtual school garden tour event was inspiring and enjoyed by my students! As the garden educator at my school, I took away lots of new outdoor learning ideas and activities to try in our Garden Classroom,” said Rachel Gomez-Acosta of Mesa-based Concordia Charter School, Inc. “I’ve shared the link with other classroom teachers so they can play during relevant lessons and themes.”
School gardens are a powerful resource for educators and students and instill long-term influence on healthy living behaviors that youth carry into adulthood. Following the educational broadcast for students, Sprouts partnered with TH Experiential, a creative marketing agency, to create a unique online media panel with education experts discussing the impact of school garden spaces. The digital experience featured 2-way interactivity with the panel discussion. Major themes and insights from the media panel include:
- Social-Emotional Wellness: Kids returning to school after time off from the pandemic are dealing with trauma as new social settings can be intimidating for children. School garden environments provide one of the safest places for student-to-student connections while being inherently therapeutic, allowing students to self-regulate their emotions and deal with anxiety.
- Nutrition Empowerment: One-third of children in the U.S. are overweight or obese, with that share closer to 50% in lower-income communities. Teaching youth how to grow and prepare fresh fruits and vegetables can yield meaningful improvements in health metrics for students and foster healthful eating habits and preferences.
- Academic Excellence: Since the start of the pandemic, students have experienced a 40% loss in reading progress and a 50% loss in math. Outdoor classrooms are an effective tool to help elementary students learn by doing, providing creative spaces to teach math, science, reading, and writing to all types of learners.
- Environmental Stewardship: School gardens are a hands-on lab for ecology, conservation, and food production, teaching students how to respect the land and to help provide for their community.
- Life Skills Development: Teaching gardens provide youth with opportunities to develop leadership skills and to practice teamwork, problem solving and communication through shared projects and collaboration.
The Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation supports dozens of local and regional school garden organizations that serve hundreds of individual school garden sites across the country. During the pandemic, the Foundation’s network of partners shifted their programming to support teachers working with students virtually, repurposed school gardens into food production gardens, and adapted their programs to bring hands-on learning to students in their homes, preventing children from falling behind academically while learning remotely.
For more information, including additional media assets, visit growingschoolgardens.org, or follow #growingschoolgardens on social media.
About Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc.
Sprouts is the place where goodness grows. True to its farm-stand heritage, Sprouts offers a unique grocery experience featuring an open layout with fresh produce at the heart of the store. Sprouts inspires wellness naturally with a carefully curated assortment of better-for-you products paired with purpose-driven people. The healthy grocer continues to bring the latest in wholesome, innovative products made with lifestyle-friendly ingredients such as organic, plant-based and gluten-free. Headquartered in Phoenix, and one of the fastest-growing retailers in the country, Sprouts employs approximately 35,000 team members and operates more than 360 stores in 23 states nationwide. To learn more about Sprouts, and the good it brings communities, visit about.sprouts.com.
About Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation
Founded in 2015, the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation aims to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, especially children, to live healthier lives. With a focus on nutrition education and fresh food access, our nonprofit partners teach children both how to grow and prepare fresh foods, as well as why such foods are important to their bodies. Knowing that kids who learn these lessons from a young age are more likely to grow up eating healthier food as adults, we reach children at every stage of development, providing hands-on learning and tasting of fresh fruits and vegetables as they grow. To date, the Foundation has awarded over $12 million to support its mission.
About School Garden Support Organization Network (SGSO Network)
The School Garden Support Organization Network is made up of organizations and individuals that support school garden programs at a regional, school district, or state level. By sharing resources and encouraging dialogue among school garden support professionals we hope to eliminate redundancy and help facilitate regional-based school garden program development.