Today, the Walmart Foundation announces the start of a summer-long initiative to help children and families gain access to nutritious meals and learn healthy-eating habits. The family-focused initiative includes $15 million in grants that will provide meals and nutrition education to 1.4 million children and families in more than 1,500 communities. The six nonprofit organizations set to receive grant funding from the Walmart Foundation, include: Children’s Health Fund, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), National 4-H Council, National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and YMCA of the USA (The Y). Additionally, as part of the initiative, Walmart kicks off a five-week Eat Healthy Together Challenge today that is designed to encourage families to prepare and eat healthy meals together throughout the summer.
According to a new FRAC report issued earlier this month, the number of children participating in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Nutrition Programs increased last year, yet the need for greater access to meals during the summer months while school is out of session remains significant. Last year, only one in seven children who needed summer meals received them, leaving children vulnerable to negative impacts on their health and development during the summer months when regular school meals are not provided. Eating healthy food reduces a child’s risk of disease, helps maintain proper growth and development and improves their memory and mood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We know that summer can be a challenging time for millions of children who rely on the nutrition from free or reduced cost school meals,” said Julie Gehrki, senior director of the Walmart Foundation. “Through our relationships with dedicated nonprofit organizations, this summer, we will further our commitment to help people gain access to healthy foods and develop nutritious eating habits. We are proud to support this work which will reach over a million children and families in more than 1,500 communities.”