Health Foundation of South Florida has awarded a $200,000 grant over two years to The Education Fund (EducationFund.org) to expand its Food Forests for Schools (FFS) initiative in public elementary schools in Miami-Dade County.
With this grant, The Education Fund’s Food Forests for Schools expands from 16 to 25 schools. This cutting-edge initiative builds entirely edible forests spanning from 3,000 sq. ft. up to an acre that also act as outdoor ECO labs for student learning. The focus is on unique, nutritionally-dense crops like Moringa, which has twice the calcium and four times the protein of milk, or the Barbados Cherry Tree, where one cherry has as much Vitamin C as 18 oranges. More than 100 different perennial, edible trees, bushes, vines, plants, and ground cover yield students’ own ‘home-grown’ fresh produce that is used in their cafeteria meals and sent home weekly for families’ use. The grant also supports the critical training component for teachers and parents.
“With this grant from Health Foundation of South Florida (HFSF), 50,000 harvest bags will be send home to students and families living in food insecure neighborhoods during the next two years. More than 17,000 students and their families will benefit. This grant and our partnership with M-DCPS’ Department of Food & Nutrition means these highly nutritious items will also appear in students’ cafeterias more than 750 times during the school year,” says Linda Lecht, president of The Education Fund.
The Education Fund’s Food Forests for Schools turns schools’ unused grass quads into large, environmentally friendly learning labs that improve students’ health and their academic achievement. In addition to the 25 Food Forests, The Education Fund will continue to work with 26 schools’ edible garden programs with a goal to find additional funding partners to transform these raised bed gardens into sustainable Food Forests. With 16 current Food Forests, The Education Fund is the first organization in the U.S. to bring a model of this magnitude to schools.
“This project expands a fully sustainable model that showcases highly nutritious fruits, vegetables, and herbs not seen in our grocery stores yet. Food Forests for Schools is on the cutting-edge of nutrition and healthy eating and is influencing students’ eating habits for years to come, reducing obesity rates, and improving overall wellness. We encourage other funders to join us in this initiative,” says Health Foundation President & CEO Steven Marcus, Ed.D.
Health Foundation of South Florida’s decision to invest in The Education Fund’s work is based on a track record of phenomenal results. The Education Fund has already improved students’ eating habits, on average, by 50 percent each year and its work was rated the most promising obesity prevention initiative in Florida. The Education Fund’s program also earned the prestigious Sapphire Award from Florida Blue and a 21st Century Solutions Award from NBCUniversal Foundation in 2016.
About The Education Fund
With the private sector’s support, we develop and implement innovative programs and methods to improve education in Miami-Dade’s public schools and inform the community about public education. Our programs support all 400+ public schools, 20,000+ teachers and 345,000 students. Current initiatives include Ideas with IMPACT, Teach-A-Thon & Taste of Education, Ocean Bank Center for Educational Materials, and For the Love of Art Exhibition and Charity Auction. We were awarded the Greater Miami Chamber’s NOVO Award and have raised more than $51 million to improve education for public school students and teachers in Miami-Dade. For more information, visit www.educationfund.org.
About Health Foundation of South Florida
Health Foundation of South Florida, a nonprofit grant-making organization, improves health through community investments for health promotion and preventive services. With leadership and effective partnerships on a national, state, and local level, the Foundation advances the ability of residents in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties to lead healthier lives. Since its founding in 1993, the Foundation worked with more than 400 organizations and awarded more than $120 million. For more information, please call 305.374.7200 or see their website, www.hfsf.org