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LEWISVILLE – April 18, 2019 – Data from national health and government organizations compiled by, showing the relationship between obesity and states, noted that Texas came in at number two in the highest of obese children.  What is even more staggering is, according to America’s Health Rankings from the United Health Foundation, childhood obesity accounts for an estimated $14.1 billion annual medical costs.  

On May 17, 2019, Independence Gardens (IG), in partnership with Amerigroup and Aramark are bringing together a team of local chefs and more than 1,000 students in north Texas to rally for improved school nutrition education.  The Come and Eat IT! 2019 campaign will launch on this day with the help of 100 volunteers, Aramark, and Amerigroup, a leading coordinator of Medicaid benefits for Texas children and families.

“The main goal Independence Gardens is nutrition education.”  said Chonnie Richey, Founder of Independence Gardens. “It begins with our edible outdoor learning spaces and culminates in our Come and Eat IT! chef-driven, student-led cooking program.  There is a direct link with the lack of nutrition education and obesity.  We’re very excited to partner with Amerigroup, as well as our continued collaboration with Aramark, when we launch in 2019. Their commitment to initiatives that create healthier communities supports our overall mission.”

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. 

The Amerigroup partnership is even more important as Independence Gardens’ expands its nutrition education programs to reach more students as well as provide alternate ways to connect children to food.  A primary example is the addition of a Tower Garden, sponsored by Amerigroup, at the newest school in their network, Trivium Academy.  Trivium will have both an edible outdoor learning space and a Tower Garden on campus.  

“Independence Gardens’ is very excited about this new addition to how we connect children to food,”  said Chonnie Richey, Founder of Independence Gardens.  “When we can collaborate and partner with organizations, like Amerigroup, whose primary focus is improving health and wellness for their members, we start seeing the impact we can make on decreasing children’s obesity rates in our community.  Also, the support and partnership with Aramark’s K-12 program is so critical in our overall mission of improving school nutrition education.  Aramark’s “We Dream.  We Do.” motto is the difference that will ensure we make an impact in students’ overall well-being.”

Come and Eat IT! 2019, launching on May 17, 2019 at 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m., will showcase a dish reflective of the nutrition goals of Independence Gardens.  The recipe, for this hands-on cooking program, was developed by local chefs and will highlight ingredients that is grown or will be grown by students within the Independence Gardens network of schools.  

Chef Casey Nicole, who serves as spokesperson and Advisory Board Member of Independence Gardens, will be one of the chefs leading the 2019 campaign.  “Come and Eat it is beyond just a garden and school lunch program. It shapes the future of healthy and sustainable resources within the school districts, teaching kids the importance of nutrition. School lunches have become this wave of what's convenient and fast- not nutritious. Independence Gardens’ Come and Eat It program advocates good choices while teaching kids the importance of a healthy nutritious lunch and the benefits of garden to table cooking. I have seen the magic in these children's eyes light up while doing cooking demos at the schools. The students are so eager to learn what they've grow in the garden can be turned into a meal they eat and can share amongst their peers. They were so excited they couldn't wait to go home and share what they made with their parents! I couldn't be more delighted to share this amongst the teachers, students and families within the DFW School Districts! 



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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