TACOMA, Wash.–()–Washington’s First Lady Trudi Inslee joined the United Health Foundation and Whole Kids Foundation for a grant presentation and roundtable discussion at DeLong Elementary School in Tacoma today.

The United Health Foundation and Whole Kids Foundation announced 24 grants, totaling $48,000, to Washington schools to develop or expand existing vegetable gardens or beehives, and provide educational resources about agriculture, caring for the environment and maintaining healthy lifestyles.

Grant Recipients Include:

Beach Elementary – Lummi Island

    Foundation for Sustainable Community – Everett

Boys & Girls Club of the Olympic Peninsula – Sequim

Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group – Belfair

Bryant Montessori – Tacoma

Master Gardener Foundation of Benton and Franklin Counties – Kennewick

Centennial Middle School – Snohomish

Naturescaping – Brush Prairie

Chloe Clark Elementary – DuPont

NW Share – Issaquah

DeLong Elementary – Tacoma

Seattle Hill Elementary – Everett

Discovery Primary School – Milton

Tekoa Elementary School – Tekoa

Discovery School Garden – Everett

The Des Moines Area Food Bank – Des Moines

Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County – Everett

The Young Men’s Christian Association of Greater Seattle – Seattle

Eatonville School District – Eatonville

Hands-On Personal Empowerment – Shelton

Families Inspiring Leaders Academy – Tacoma

South King County Food Coalition – Des Moines

Fir Grove Children’s Center – Vancouver

Stevens Creek Elementary – Lake Stevens

“Magic happens when a child plants a seed that grows into something natural and healthy to eat,” said Nona Evans, president and executive director of Whole Kids Foundation. “These grants will help give many children the opportunity to grow their own nutritious food, and this experience will shape healthy eating choices for the rest of their lives.”

First Lady Trudi Inslee, Whole Kids Foundation’s Nona Evans, UnitedHealthcare Pacific Northwest States CEO Claire Verity, and other education and health care leaders hosted a discussion about health challenges facing Washington communities, including food insecurity, obesity and other social determinants of health, and possible local solutions to address these challenges.

Studies show that school gardening, combined with a healthy lunch program or nutrition education, encourages healthier food choices. Children are also more likely to eat fruits and vegetables they have grown themselves.

According to America’s Health Rankings, Washington youth rank 7th out of 50 states, with more than 30 percent of children ages 10-17 overweight or obese

“Food insecurity, including food deserts, obesity and diabetes are serious health concerns that can be alleviated through better awareness and familiarity with growing and preparing healthy meals,” said Verity. “On behalf of the United Health Foundation, we are grateful for the opportunity to support these organizations instilling healthy habits and setting students on the path to success.”

About the United Health Foundation
Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, the United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. The United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, the United Health Foundation has committed $430 million to programs and communities around the world. We invite you to learn more at www.unitedhealthgroup.com/SocialResponsibility.

About Whole Kids Foundation®
Whole Kids Foundation, a Whole Foods Market foundation, is based in Austin, Texas, and operates as an independent, nonprofit organization. By empowering schools and inspiring families, the Foundation aims to help children reach optimal health through the strength of a healthy body fueled by nutritious food. For more information on the Foundation’s programs, including school gardens, salad bars and nutrition education for teachers, visit wholekidsfoundation.org.

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Preety holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies and is the former Deputy Director of Media Relations with the Modern Coalition.