Seattle, WA (October 3, 2011) – Whole Foods Market  presented a $12,000 check to the University of Washington’s Experimental Education Unit (EEU) this week to help keep EEU students eating the freshest and most nutritional food possible during school hours.

Whole Foods Markets in the Puget Sound region partnered with the EEU on a commemorative student art bag project to raise funds for the donation. EEU students from birth to kindergarten created compelling, “Seattle inspired” art which was then printed on reusable bags and sold in all regional stores this past April.

“We are just really excited that we have such a great community partner and that this relationship will continue,” said EEU principal Chris Matsumoto. “It's really fun to be walking around Seattle and see people carrying those bags that our students helped make.”

In all EEU classrooms, children with special needs work directly alongside their typically developing peers, at no cost to families.

The donation allows the EEU to vastly improve the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables, and focus on nutritional lunch and snacks for growing brains and bodies of children from birth through kindergarten, with and without disabilities. The project was an opportunity to incorporate art, nutrition and education in the classroom, while sparking excitement and arousing awareness in the community about a vital service and critical message about the importance of inclusive education.

“It wasn't just EEU parents and staff that came in and bought bags to make this possible, but it was the regional stores and the thousands of Seattle Whole Foods shoppers that helped it along,” said David Hulbert, Whole Foods Market Marketing & Merchandising Coordinator for Washington and British Columbia. “And we're happy to be able to continue with our longest running partnership.”

For more than seven years, Whole Foods Market has provided in-kind food and products for the EEU’s largest annual fundraiser, a 600-person auction held at the school each May. Additionally, the company continues to be involved through visiting the school, providing nutrition guidance and healthy snack options with a special focus on developing creative meal alternatives for gluten-free and casein-free snacks for families and students with dietary restrictions.