Grants worth $14 million to five nonprofit groups will provide nutritional education and help feed 1.7 million hungry kids this summer and next.
Recipients of the grants include Alliance for a healthier Generation, Food Research and Action Center, National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families, Texas Hunger Initiatives and the YMCA. The organizations will use the grants to fund programs that serve families in more than 450 communities across the nation, according to Walmart. In addition, the grants will fund programs that teach families how to develop healthy, low-cost eating habits.
"At Walmart, we recognize that many children rely on the meals provided at school to sustain an adequate nutrition level, and often go without after class ends and during summer vacation," said Julie Gehrki, senior director of the Walmart Foundation. "That's why we're committed to supporting organizations that work to ensure children have access to meals all year long and are also teaching families about eating healthy. Through Walmart's own efforts and by working with dedicated nonprofit partners to make healthy foods more accessible and affordable, we strive to help families live better, healthier lives."
According to a report by the grant recipient Food Research and Action Center, while 19.6 million low-income children rely on the U.S. Department of Agriculture lunch programs during the school year, only one in seven of those kids participate in summer nutrition programs. In fact, summer meal program participation declined from 2008 to 2012, but the need for these programs grew, as suggested by an increase in school lunch participation among low-income children during the same time, according to the report.
To help raise awareness about the importance of access to meals and nutrition education programs throughout the year, the Walmart Foundation has teamed with Dr. Michele Borba, recognized children's health and development expert and author of 22 parenting and educational books, to offers insight and simple tips that families can follow to enjoy a healthy summer.
"Parents and caregivers can and should take an active role in helping children avoid the 'summer-slide,'" said Dr. Borba. "Look for programs in your neighborhood that will help your children access regular meals and stay active throughout their school break. These programs will not only benefit your children's health during the summer, they will have a lasting impact on their future development."