Today, World Bee Day, Whole Kids Foundation launched the Give Bees a Chance campaign to showcase the vital role that bees play in our food system, winning support from some of the nation’s most celebrated chefs. The monthlong fundraising effort to support the organization’s Bee Grant Program, which provides educational beehives to schools and nonprofits, will take place during June’s National Pollinator Month.
The Give Bees a Chance campaign goal is to raise $100,000 to fund 50 new educational beehives for schools across the nation.
Honeybees pollinate more than 100 types of crops in the U.S., however, recent studies by the United States Department of Agriculture show large-scale losses in bee colonies. Threats to their colonies include pesticides, mites and beetles, diseases, starvation, extreme weather conditions and insufficient foliage. Beyond the honeybee, things get even more dire. According to the Xerces Society, more than one-fourth of North America’s bumblebee species are at risk for extinction.
“Through the Give Bees A Chance campaign, we’re giving kids access to educational beehives where they can observe bees up close and learn about the vital role these pollinators play in growing our food,” said Nona Evans, president and executive director of Whole Kids Foundation. “These opportunities help empower kids to become stewards for pollinators and the rest of the natural environment.”
Whole Kids Foundation invites anyone interested to support the campaign by donating online at wholekidsfoundation.org/givebeesachance. Additionally, families interested in learning more about bees and their role in our food system can visit the Whole Kids Foundation website for information and kids activities.
Four celebrated chefs from across the U.S. are joining forces with Whole Kids Foundation to host bee-inspired fundraising dinners for the Give Bees A Chance campaign in San Francisco/Bay Area, Houston and Atlanta. Who better to understand this precarious relationship between pollinators and our food than chefs?
Participating chefs include Melissa King, a finalist for Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” Season 12, who trained at three Michelin star award–winning restaurants after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America — Campton Place, Luce and The Ritz-Carlton Dining Room. She will be joined by Tu David Phu, also a featured contestant of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” Season 15, who has worked at some of the finest dining establishments in the U.S., including San Francisco’s famed Acquerello, Michelin-starred Daniel in New York City and the Bay Area’s Chez Panisse. Both chefs are Whole Foods Market Chef Ambassadors.
Additionally, as executive chef of Houston’s legendary Rainbow Lodge, Mark Schmidt, whose impressive résumé includes working alongside Stephan Pyles and Mark Kiffin, will present a bee dinner at Rainbow Lodge along with owner and beekeeper Donnette Hansen. A final dinner will be hosted by Anne Quatrano, chef/owner of Bacchanalia, who also oversees the Star Provisions group that includes several of Atlanta’s most acclaimed restaurants. Quatrano is also a cookbook author and recipient of numerous James Beard Foundation recognitions including winner of the 2003 James Beard Foundation Best Chefs in America.
“Every culture has distinct, beautiful flavors that are driven by specific core ingredients. Our bee friends are truly our partners in ensuring that these unique flavors continue to be shared between generations and between communities everywhere,” said Chef Melissa King. “Our creativity thrives when we get to work with a wide range of fresh ingredients. They’re really like the crayons to our culinary coloring book, and if half of our palette of colors were gone, it would really limit the opportunity to share beautiful dishes made from ingredients and spices that our guests love.”
Dinner dates and locations:
- Chefs Melissa King and Tu David Phu (Bay Area/Oakland) — Thursday, June 6, 6:30 pm, at Oakland Asian Cultural Center
- Chef Mark Schmidt with owner and beekeeper Donnette Hansen (Houston) — Thursday, June 13, 6:30 pm at Rainbow Lodge
- Chef Anne Quatrano (Atlanta) — Sunday, June 30, 5:30 pm at Bacchanalia
For tickets and details for the bee dinners, visit wholekidsfoundation.org/givebeesachance.
“It’s an honor to join forces with such talented chefs and restaurateurs to protect the bees, the unsung heroes of our food supply,” said Nona Evans. “There’s a lot at stake, and these chefs and restaurateurs understand that kids are critical to the future of pollinators and ultimately, the future of food.”
Whole Kids Foundation is also hosting a free #GiveBeesAChance Family Fest in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, June 2, at the Texas Farmers Market at Mueller, 10 am – 1 pm. The family event celebrates bees and other pollinators with hands-on activities, family-friendly learning opportunities and a kids’ Save the Queen bee parade at 10:30 am. For details, visit wholekidsfoundation.org/givebeesachance.
The funds raised from the Give Bees a Chance campaign will be used to fund 50 beehive grants nationwide, providing educational opportunities around biology, agriculture, ecology, nutrition and business for students across the nation.
As an integral part of this year’s campaign, organic producers Once Upon A Farm and Horizon Organic are lead sponsors, alongside additional partners Cascadian Farm, KIND and Honest. Together, they are pledging a combined total of $87,500, equating to about 40 educational beehive grants. All of these generous suppliers are passionate about protecting pollinators and preserving sustainable food systems.
Because Whole Foods Market covers all of the foundation’s operational costs, 100 percent of every dollar donated directly supports the Bee Grant Program.
Since 2011, Whole Kids Foundation has granted 400 educational beehives with support from The Bee Cause Project, which provides resources to schools, including free curriculum on beehives. Visit the Whole Kids website here for more information on the Bee Grant Program and to apply for grants. The bee grant window to apply is Sep. 1 – Oct. 15, 2019.