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Independence Gardens and Amerigroup  Present Come and Eat IT! Nutrition Education Program

LEWISVILLE – May 15, 2017 – One in three children in Texas is obese, and that is why Independence Gardens (IG) and Amerigroup are bringing together more than 1,000 students from 12 elementary schools in Lewisville to rally for improved school nutrition education on May 19, 2017.  The Come and Eat IT! 2017 campaign will also launch with the help of 200 volunteers and Amerigroup on this day.

Come and Eat It! is a fun, interactive, and tasty event that connects kids with the food they’re growing and eating. This connection is a critical step in nutrition education, which this program teaches through gardening and cooking.” said Chonnie Richey, founder of Independence Gardens (IG).  

IG is a 501c3 nonprofit parent-led organization funds experiential nutrition programs starting with their edible outdoor learning spaces. While school gardening is not a new concept, IG programs combine not only the hands-on activities in their outdoor learning spaces, but also a hands-on cooking program (Come and Eat IT!) where students learn how to use the fruits and vegetables they are growing.  A program with 100 percent student participation, integrated into curriculum, and where the food is self-sustaining and healthy for the whole school. 

“One of the main goals of  Independence Gardens is nutrition education.”  said Chonnie Richey, Founder of Independence Gardens. “It begins with our edible school gardens and it culminates in our Come and Eat IT! Campaign.  There is a direct link with the lack of nutrition education and obesity.  We’re very excited to partner with Amerigroup as we launch in 2017.  Their commitment to initiatives that create healthier communities supports our overall mission.” 

“Amerigroup Texas is proud to partner with Independence Gardens to ensure that children in Lewisville learn to make healthy choices, by either growing or selecting nutritious food for their meals, so that they continue to live healthy lives,” said Amerigroup Texas President Tisch Scott

 This partnership becomes even more important in campuses like Southridge Elementary.  In 2016, Independence Gardens added Southridge Elementary to their network of Community Gardens.  In a school and neighborhood where 71 percent of the student population is economically disadvantaged, IG created a program that provided students real life opportunities and addressed the lack of nutrition education.  

“Lack of child nutrition is an epidemic in our country and greatly affects people in poverty.” said Sarah Allen, First Grade Southridge Elementary Teacher and Independence Garden Board Member.  “There was a direct need for healthy foods for our students at Southridge, since most live in a food dessert (a grocery store is not within walking distance to their homes).  When we heard about the programs Independence Gardens were providing students in our District, we knew they would be a perfect partner.”

On May 19, 2017 at 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m., students will join local chefs as they prepare a dish that is reflective of the nutrition goals of Independence Gardens.  Local chefs will lead the students, from across the Lewisville Independent School District, in this hands-on cooking activity.  

“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 whose mission is to connect kids with food through actionable, impactful school nutrition programs.  We are 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.

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About Amerigroup Texas:Amerigroup Texas helps improve health care access and quality for approximately 800,000 low-income Texans by developing innovative care management programs and services. Members are assured care that is not only accessible, but also accountable, comprehensive, integrated and patient-centered. Amerigroup Texas provides ongoing community relations and outreach to encourage members to become active participants in their health care. Through health education programs, members are empowered to choose and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

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