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Apple Project Takes A Bite Out of Childhood Hunger

LEWISVILLE – October 11, 2016 – Independence Gardens’, a nonprofit parent-led organization launches it’s second edible school yard in the Lewisville Independent School District.  With local Home Depot stores as their build partner, the outdoor learning space at Southridge Elementary will officially open with a ribbon cutting on October 28, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.  

“The Apple Project is a great opportunity for us to tackle childhood hunger at a local level and the rising obesity rates in Texas.” said Chonnie Richey, Founder of Independence Gardens.  “One of the main goals of Independence Gardens is to connect children to the food they’re eating.  When this connection happens, nutrition education becomes part of their day-to-day.  More important, when 71% of the student population at Southridge Elementary is economically disadvantaged, they live in what some would call “food insecure households” meaning their access to nutritious food is limited or in some cases, none at all.  We’re here to change that.”  

A 2015 State of Texas Children report conducted by the Center of Public Policy Priorities states that the percentage of economically disadvantaged students in Texas increased in 2013-2014 (when compared to 2009-2010).  For these children that live in these households, this limited access to nutritious food can negatively impact their behavior and have a harder time focusing in school.  A similar report by the Food Research and Action Center shows that those in food insecure households, that are considered low income, are more vulnerable to obesity because of challenges they face including:  “cycles of food deprivation and overeating,” “lack of access to healthy, affordable foods,” and “ limited resources.”

Sarah Allen, Southridge Elementary First Grade Teacher spearheaded the project.  She states that,  “Our campus is excited to continue our partnership with Independence Gardens to provide nutrition based education to our students.  Working with Independence Gardens has been a wonderful partnership that will benefit our students for years to come.” 

Ninety percent of the plants in Independence Gardens’ outdoor learning spaces are edible.  A direct extension of the classroom, the experiential activities in these school gardens have been shown to improve academic achievement, create positive attitudes towards science and learning, and foster a pride of ownership of accomplishments in students.  Additionally, the community gardens concept engages parents, students, and the community while teaching students about healthy food choices and the positive impact of sustainable local food sources, as well as provide access to open spaces and outdoor recreation activities.

“As a community, we’re failing our children when even one of them goes to school hungry, or have no access to nutritious food.” said Chonnie Richey.  “Independence Gardens has a chance to make an impact on childhood hunger and decrease the obesity rate through nutrition education.  We challenge our children to dream big every day because they’re the ones that will shape our future.  But how can they do that when they’re hungry or have to battle preventable diseases like obesity?  They can’t.  If we can touch that child’s life with something as basic as access to nutritious food, we’ve already made a difference.”  


About Independence Gardens:  Independence Gardens is a 501c3, parent-led organization committed to partnering with schools in developing and implementing experiential edible gardening programs that will provide every student an engaging, meaningful and transformative educational experience.  This uninhibited learning  will be accomplished through working partnerships with our community and schools, aiding in implementation of curriculum that address sustainable and ecological gardening practices, and provide an avenue for students to develop life skills in areas such as nutrition, leadership, and decision making.

Contact:  Chonnie Richey, Founder, Independence Gardens

cell (214) 500-7206

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