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The Walmart Foundation has kicked off 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. In conjunction with the effort, Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart launched a five-week Eat Healthy Together Challenge designed to encourage families to prepare and eat healthy meals together throughout the summer.
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).
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, while school is out of session, remains significant, according to a FRAC report issued earlier this month. Last year, only one in seven children who needed summer meals received them, leaving kids vulnerable to negative impacts on their health and development during the summer, when regular school meals are not provided.
“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.”
Chef Lorena Garcia to Enhance Effort
In addition to Walmart Foundation's healthy summer meals grant, Walmart is collaborating with Chef Lorena Garcia, a celebrity chef and author with TV appearances on BRAVO’s “Top Chef Masters” and NBC’s “Biggest Loser," to launch the Eat Healthy Together Challenge, which encourages families to eat healthy meals together at least three times a week.
The challenge will run through Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, with the first gift card to be awarded on Monday, July 7, 2014.