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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Chef Nutrition Education Program Celebrates 10 Years.

LEWISVILLE – March 13, 2023  – According to the most recent report of The State of Childhood Obesity, Texas currently ranks 8 of 51 States in childhood obesity; 20.3% of children between the ages of 10-17.   What is even more staggering, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children with obesity have a greater chance of becoming obese as adults, and this preventable disease costs the US healthcare system approximately $173 billion a year.

On May 18, 2023, Independence Gardens (IG), in partnership with Amerigroup and Aramark are bringing together a team of local chefs and students in North Texas to rally for improved school nutrition education.  Come and Eat IT! 2023, Independence Gardens’ chef-led cooking campaign launches today in celebration of Independence Gardens’ 10 year anniversary.

“We are very excited to kick-off Come and EAT 2023 in celebration of IG’s 10th year.”  said Chonnie Richey, Founder of Independence Gardens. “Since 2013, Independence Gardens continuous to connect children to food through actionable, impactful nutrition programs that provide schools and communities access to fresh food.   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 access to fresh food, nutrition education and obesity.  We’re very excited to partner with Amerigroup, as well as our continued collaboration with Aramark. 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, healthy for the whole school and accessible to families that need them.  

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.  Schools participating in 2023 will receive a $200 micro-grant to seed nutrition programs in their schools.   

“Independence Gardens’ is very excited about 2023.”  said Chonnie Richey, Founder of Independence Gardens.  “Along with our current nutrition programs, we will be launching initiatives that studies the direct relationship between obesity and access to fresh food and expanding partnerships with local organizations, including Promise of Peace.   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.”

Come and Eat IT! 2023, launching on May 18, 2023 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 Brielle Bustamante, who serves as spokesperson and Board Member of Independence Gardens, will be one of the chefs leading the 2023 campaign.  “IG programs like The Apple Project, The Beanstalk Project, and Come Eat IT shapes the future of healthy and sustainable resources in communities.   It provides children and families access to fresh food while teaching kids the importance of nutrition.  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. Providing children the right balance of nutrition that fuels their day puts them on the path of success.” 

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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 that provides school and communities access to fresh food.  We are committed to partnering with organizations 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. www.independencegardens.org

Contact: Chonnie Richey, Founder, Independence Gardens                                                           

chonnie@independencegardens.org  

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