AUSTIN, Texas (May 5, 2010) — Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI) has been named by the world’s largest culinary professional organization, The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), as “Culinary Youth Advocate of the Year” and has received an “Award of Excellence for its effort to help improve school lunches for children nationwide with the “School Lunch Revolution” awareness campaign which launched last fall.

 “We are honored to be recognized for this effort by such a prestigious organization. This truly is a testament to our customers’ commitment to providing healthier school lunches,” said Walter Robb, co-president and chief operating officer of Whole Foods Market. “Through their tremendous contributions we were able to raise not only awareness, but also more than $700,000 to help public schools across the country provide more nutritious lunches for children.”

 During the 2009 back-to-school season, Whole Foods Market joined forces with Chef Ann Cooper, the nation’s “Renegade Lunch Lady,” to kick off the “School Lunch Revolution.” Customers donated at checkout counters to fund the development of “The Lunchbox Project,” an online resource created by Cooper’s nonprofit, F3: Food Family Farming Foundation. F3 offers free, easy-to-use tools that public schools can use to transform cafeterias and serve fresher, healthier meals. Additionally, Whole Foods Market contributed $50,000 to seed the program.

 To further raise awareness, Robb and Cooper traveled to Washington, D.C., and asked government officials to enact more rigorous nutrition guidelines. The awareness tour, which was designed to rally shoppers around the cause and encourage parents and community members to get involved in the program, included stops at several Whole Foods Market stores around the country. At every stop, the duo visited with members of the media, and the resulting coverage broadened interest in the “School Lunch Revolution.”

Whole Foods Market also featured several online tools, including:

  • A series of six short educational videos
  • A video contest for PTO/PTA organizations to get a chance to win a visit by Cooper; and
  • Solutions for affordable, healthy lunches

 “The bus doesn’t stop here,” said Robb. “By partnering with schools and organizations in the communities they serve, our stores are expanding our involvement and helping to ensure better nutrition at lunchtime. And, Chef Cooper has been busy building the online toolbox to be ready for schools to use this fall.”

“Whole Foods Market is a shining example of how corporations need to take the lead in being socially responsible to the planet in addition to providing amazing products and service to the consumer while empowering their employees to be the best in their endeavors,” said Scott E. Givot, immediate past president of the IACP. “It is with sheer delight that I congratulate Whole Foods Market for this award recognizing their program to improve the dire state of lunch room cafeterias through awareness, training and resources.”

The “Culinary Youth Advocate of the Year” is a new IACP “Award of Excellence” category this year. It is reserved for a culinary professional or company whose work as a youth culinary advocate breaks new ground in imparting nutritional knowledge or skills that empower young people to make wholesome food choices.  Past honorees of the Award of Excellence have included: Rick Bayless, Guiliano Hazan, Anne Willan, Chuck Williams, Nora Pouillon, Arthur Schwartz, The Beef Checkoff, and Cuisinart. This year’s awards were presented on April 22, at the Portland Art Museum, during the 32nd IACP Annual Conference in Portland, OR.  For more information on the IACP “Award of Excellence,” or for a complete list of recipients, visit: http://www.iacp.com/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=796.

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