Annie's Inc. has joined with KidsGardening.org and TODAY Show anchor Carson Daly to help build a new school garden in Brooklyn, New York
"We are thrilled that Annie's has joined with us to help fund this school garden, which we hope will be a catalyst to build more gardens in schools across the country," said Mike Metallo, president and CEO of the National Gardening Association, which operates KidsGardening.org. "Annie's has been a leader in supporting youth education and gardening and their support will have a tremendous impact, particularly to the kids at these schools."
The effort is part of TODAY's Shine a Light series, which supports worthy causes throughout the year. Carson Daly has made a personal commitment to alleviate childhood hunger and food insecurity by bringing gardens to schools and has teamed up with KidsGardening.org to adopt Brooklyn Arts & Science School and Exceed Charter School in Brooklyn to build a new school garden.
Annie's contribution, made through Crowdrise.com, will fund a large portion of the garden build at the school, which has transformed an empty outdoor courtyard area into a 1,000 square foot garden. The garden has multiple fruit trees, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers, and gives children and their families an opportunity to engage in the process of growing, preparing, and eating fresh and healthy foods; it also gives students and teachers the opportunity to grow their own food and incorporate healthy eating curriculum into the school.
"For 25 years, Annie's has been passionate about school gardens and connecting kids to real food. By helping children learn where food comes from through school gardens, like this one here in Brooklyn, Annie's is helping kids to understand that real food tastes great and encouraging them to start making better choices at an early age," said John Foraker, Annie's CEO. "We are proud to support this initiative which underscores our collective goals of getting a garden into every school across the nation."
Annie's has always been committed to helping children know where their food comes from. Since 2008, through Annie's Grants for Gardens program, the company has supported more than 270 schools throughout the country, putting more than 80,000 children in direct contact with growing real food.
In addition to Annie's $25,000 donation, in-kind contributions to the garden installation include products from Sun Gro soil, Bonnie Plants seedlings and transplants, High Mowing seed packets, Ames garden tools, White + Burke design services, Rain Bird consultation and irrigation system, and more than 800 square feet of flooring from ECORE.
Brooklyn Arts & Science Elementary School and The Explore Exceed Charter School is home to more than 400 students, grades Pre K through 5. The schools are new to the neighborhood and their presence brings a youthful energy that has rallied the community and parent volunteers.
"I see green, which is something that's hard to find here in Brooklyn," Sandra Beauvoir Soto, principal of the Brooklyn Arts & Science School. "It's all concrete. It's asphalt. It's rubber. It's hard. To have something living, breathing, growing, alive – like the children that we serve – I think, is gonna be really powerful for them."
As cited by the TODAY Show, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 3 children and adolescents in America are overweight or obese. Ironically, at the same time, the USDA reports that 1 in 4 American kids live in food insecure homes. According to a new study released by NGA, Garden to Table: A 5-Year Look at Food Gardening in America,shows that more young people, particularly Millennials, are the fastest growing population segment of food gardeners and that food gardening by people living in urban areas is up from 7 million in 2008 to 9 million in 2013.
To learn more about TODAY's Shine A Light program and Carson Daly's gardening initiative visit KidsGardening.org.