Honolulu, HI (July 2, 2012) – This fall, island keiki will head back to school with their backpacks stocked with all the classroom essentials – pencils, paper and … gardening tools? Thanks to the Whole Kids Foundation, a nonprofit created by Whole Foods Market, in cooperation with FoodCorps, six Hawai‘i schools, including four on O‘ahu and two on Maui — will receive grants of $2,000 each to build or expand upon community and school gardens.

Ke Kula ‘O Samuel M. Kamakau (Kane‘ohe), Kainalu Elementary (Kailua), Makaha Elementary (Makaha), and Waikiki Elementary (Honolulu) were all selected to receive garden grants which will provide students access to fresh produce, establish a better understanding of where food comes from and bridge the connection of a healthy planet with a healthy body. On Maui, Kihei Elementary (Kihei) and Kihei Charter School (Kihei) were selected as recipients for garden grants.

“This exciting program helps our schools grow students’ relationships with their food and provides keiki with the tools they need to develop healthy eating habits at a young age,” said Natalie Aczon, Whole Foods Market Kahala marketing supervisor.

In addition to providing funds, each grant recipient will receive a copy of “How to Grow a School Garden” by Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel Pringle, a digital garden kit, seed packages from High Mowing Organics, discounts for gardening supplies and ongoing opportunities for mentoring and support from FoodCorps, which will help recipients build and sustain their gardens to ensure long-term success.

“Our hope is that these grants will invest our next generation in the importance of making healthier meal choices,” said Dabney Gough, Whole Foods Market Kailua marketing supervisor.

The Whole Kids Foundation is currently extending $2 million in grant funds to more than 1,000 schools and garden-related nonprofits throughout the country, which will support a broad range of projects including raised-bed garden construction, vertical gardens and larger-scale expansions in schools, outdoor classroom projects, composting and rainwater collection.

Whole Foods Market launched the Whole Kids Foundation to increase children’s access to healthy foods. The foundation currently focuses on the following:
• Ongoing work to install salad bars in schools, providing children with access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
• Offering garden grants to create and expand school and community gardening.
• Education for teachers through classes and resources aimed to promote health and nutrition in the classroom.

For additional information on Whole Foods Market Kahala, please visit www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/honolulu/ or call (808) 738 -0820. To keep up-to-date on the latest store news, events and sales, follow Whole Foods Market Kahala on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WholeFoodsKahala and on twitter at www.twitter.com/wfmkahala.

For additional information on Whole Foods Market’s Kailua store, please visit www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/kailua or call (808) 263-8900. To keep up-to-date on the latest store news, events and sales, follow Whole Foods Market Kailua on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WholeFoodsKailua and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WFMKailua.