Funding supports nutrition program for American Indian children in
HARTFORD, Conn. -- (Business Wire)
Continuing its efforts to promote health and wellness, the Aetna
Foundation has awarded a $75,000 grant to FoodCorps. The funding aims to
help transform eating habits of children from low-income communities by
promoting nutrition, teaching gardening and expanding healthful school
To pursue its work, FoodCorps recruits emerging leaders for a year of
full-time public service dedicated to improving child health in
limited-resource communities. Working with partner organizations in K-12
public schools, these AmeriCorps service members use a three-ingredient
recipe for healthy kids: teaching children what healthy food is and
where it comes from, helping them grow fresh food in school gardens, and
working with farmers, chefs and others to transform school meals.
The Aetna Foundation grant will support team members leading FoodCorps’
activities in Arizona among children in the Navajo, White Mountain
Apache, and Tohono O’odham reservation communities. Here, childhood
overweight and obesity rates approach 50%, and children as young as six
have been diagnosed with Type II diabetes.
“We are pleased to support FoodCorps, and applaud their inspiring and
productive approach to improving nutrition and reducing diet-related
health problems in Arizona’s American Indian communities,” said Gillian
Barclay, vice president of the Aetna Foundation and director of national
grant making. “By combining nutrition education with hands-on
activities, FoodCorps is giving children the knowledge and tools to
acquire or grow healthful foods and to effectively incorporate these
foods into their diets at home and at school.”
Beyond the quantitative measures of FoodCorps’ impact, the
organization’s Arizona team reports children running to snatch up veggie
snacks after they have spent a lesson learning how vegetables are grown.
Service members also cite the success of Family Feast nights and
community workshops. At these events, parents talk about the quality of
school food and ways to increase their communities’ access to fresh
fruits and vegetables.
“America’s obesity problem does not affect all parts of our country
equally. In addition to geographic, demographic and environmental
factors, ethnicity also plays a major role, such as in Arizona, where
American Indian children suffer obesity at three times the rate of
non-Hispanic Whites,” said Curt Ellis, executive director of FoodCorps.
“We are grateful for the Aetna Foundation’s support in advancing better
nutrition among children in American Indian communities in Arizona, and
for its genuine interest in our organization and its mission.”
FoodCorps currently operates in 61 sites across 12 states. Last year,
its service members worked with more than 50,000 young people to improve
their access to healthy food and increase their understanding of a
About the Aetna Foundation
The Aetna Foundation, Inc. is the independent charitable and
philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna
Foundation have contributed $412 million in grants and sponsorships,
including $18 million in 2011. As a national health foundation,
we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for
everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna
employees, who have volunteered more than 2.6 million hours since 2003.
Aetna’s current giving is focused on addressing the rising rate of adult
and childhood obesity in the U.S.; promoting racial and ethnic equity
in health and health care; and advancing integrated health care. For
more information, visit www.AetnaFoundation.org.
FoodCorps is a national nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce
childhood obesity by increasing vulnerable children’s knowledge of,
engagement with, and access to healthy food. FoodCorps launched its
AmeriCorps service program in 2011 with a first class of 50 emerging
leaders across 10 states, and has grown this year to 80 service members
in 12 states. Its service members conduct food and nutrition education,
build and tend school gardens, and expand farm-to-cafeteria sourcing of
healthy food. The result is a wraparound environment of wellness that
puts vulnerable children on a path toward prosperity and health.
Marnie Goodman, 860-273-2314
Jerusha Klemperer, 212-596-7045 ext. 105
Source: Aetna Foundation, Inc.
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