11:02 a.m. PDT May 11, 2016
The Salem-Keizer Education Foundation recently received a $75,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to support the launch of Rootopia, a garden to kitchen table education program, which will roll out later this year.
Rootopia aims to make growing and eating fresh healthy foods fun, according to a recent press release. It is part of SKEF’s comprehensive approach to address childhood obesity and hunger in the region.
“Our community is facing a dual problem,” said Krina Lee, Salem-Keizer Education Foundation executive director, in a statement. “We have the highest rate of childhood obesity in the state and yet many of our students are food insecure. Launching the Rootopia program in our schools will give us a chance to address both hunger and healthy eating.”
In the Salem-Keizer School District, nearly 75 percent of kindergarten through fifth-grade students are obese or morbidly obese. Additionally, about 58 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch in the district, and SKEF reported nearly 10,000 students receive their only meals of the day at school.
The $75,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation provides funding for SKEF to reach approximately 3,000 students in the Salem-Keizer School District with this program at 13 schools this fall.
This is the third Walmart Foundation grant that SKEF has received since 2014, according to the release, all of which have supported healthy eating programs in Salem area schools. This brings the total investment to $160,000.
Previous grants supported SKEF’s expansion of its Learning Gardens program to four additional schools and made improvements to the Parrish Middle School garden.
Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal. Contact Natalie at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist or on the Web at nataliepate.com