SKEF receives $75,000 to address childhood obesity


SKEF receives $75,000 to address childhood obesity

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, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate, on Facebook at or on the Web at


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Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. Natalie has previously worked for organizations and publications such as Direct Relief International, Waging Non-Violence, and Amnesty International USA. She has had stories published with USA Today, Associated Press and Ozy, among others. Natalie earned her B.A. in Politics and French and Francophone Studies (FFS) from Willamette University. During her studies, she wrote a Politics thesis titled, "No One is Dying: How and Why the U.S. Federal Government Avoids Executing Prisoners on Federal Death Row" and an FFS thesis, in French, on cannibalism in the 16th and 17th centuries. Natalie is a journalist, performer, traveler, fiction writer and more. She is working to publish her dystopian novella, "Choice," which follows a man during 24 hours in solitary confinement for allegedly committing murder. For more information on Natalie visit, like her on Facebook at, or follow Natalie on Twitter (@Nataliempate) or Tumblr (Nataliempate blog "In the Shoes of a Journalist"). Her reporting with the Statesman Journal can also be found at

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