CONCORD, Mass., Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The second annual Welch's Harvest Grants program launches today to support school gardens nationwide and encourage healthy eating habits. The program is a partnership between Welch's®, Scholastic Parent & Child® magazine and the National Gardening Association. Welch's Harvest Grants gives thousands of children the opportunity to learn the importance of incorporating fruits and vegetables into their diet and gain a heightened awareness of what they eat and where it comes from by planting and growing fruit and vegetable gardens at school.
In the first year of Welch's Harvest Grants, gardening packages were awarded to 100 schools nationwide. More than 12,500 children got involved, as well as many parents, teachers and members of the community who helped in the school gardens. "Students want fresh food from the garden, and they ask for it!" comments Holly Orians from the West MI Academy of Environmental Science, Michigan, a Welch's Harvest Grants winning school. "The food service only has to say 'This is from the garden' and the kids are lined up to get the veggies! We've seen improved science scores across the board and also students' reactions to the outdoors."
"Of the schools that participated in last year's program, an amazing 17% reported an improvement in test scores which they attributed to the presence of a gardening curriculum," comments Mike Metallo, President of National Gardening and KidsGardening.Org. "But Welch's Harvest Grants is not just a classroom-based program. It's an opportunity for families to incorporate healthy eating in their daily lives year round, and we believe that this program is already having a positive impact on the eating behaviors of families across America."
This year, Welch's Harvest Grants will also help promote healthy eating habits among families. A Harvest Time game and Healthy Eating Pledge launch today on Welch's Facebook page, which encourage parents to include more fruits and vegetables in their family's diet. Participating families have the opportunity to win a garden a day through September and October, as well as a grand prize to experience farming first-hand on a Welch's family farm, where the Concord and Niagara grapes that are used to make Welch's delicious juices and other grape-based products are grown.
"As a family farmer-owned company, Welch's is proud to help children discover how their food is grown and enjoy the excitement of eating the fruits and vegetables they have grown," said Brad Irwin, President and Chief Executive Officer, Welch Foods Inc. "We are really excited to receive such an amazing response from the school children who benefited from last year's Welch's Harvest Grants, and see how growing their own fruits and vegetables has really encouraged them to try a variety of nutritious foods."
"We are happy to be working with Welch's again this year, to help families learn about the importance of eating well," says Risa Crandall, Publisher of Scholastic Parent & Child magazine. "There is no better life lesson than when children grow their own gardens, and their hard work is rewarded with some really delicious, healthy fruits and veggies that they can enjoy with their friends and their family. This program brings learning to life for children in the classroom and out in the backyard."
Starting September 15, 2010, K-8 teachers nationwide are invited to apply for one of 100 grants through the Scholastic website. Entries will be judged by experts at the National Gardening Association and Scholastic who will select two schools in every state to receive a Welch's Harvest Grant. Welch's will award garden packages, together valued at more than $50,000, to 100 winning schools. Each package will include tools, seeds, and educational materials that will help students plant and grow gardens at school. The deadline for submission is February 11, 2011. For complete details and official rules go to www.scholastic.com/harvest.
Headquartered in Concord, Massachusetts, Welch's is the processing and marketing subsidiary of the National Grape Cooperative. Welch's is owned by 1,150 family-farmers across America and in Ontario, Canada, who make up this cooperative, and who are responsible for growing the Concord and Niagara grapes which are pressed to produce Welch's juices and other grape-based products. At the heart of Welch's is the delicious and inherently healthy Concord grape, and the family-farmer owners who grow it. As a family-farmer owned company, sustainable agriculture and the importance of healthy eating are central to Welch's mission. Welch's is committed to research and development which will meet the growing demand for products that address consumers' health and nutrition needs. Welch's products are sold throughout the United States and in approximately 50 countries around the globe.
Scholastic Corporation (Nasdaq: SCHL) is the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books and a leader in educational technology and related services and children's media. Scholastic creates quality books, print and technology-based learning materials and programs, magazines, multi-media and other products that help children learn both at school and at home. The Company distributes its products and services worldwide through a variety of channels, including school-based book clubs and book fairs, retail stores, schools, libraries, on-air, and online at www.scholastic.com.
About the National Gardening Association
The National Gardening Association (NGA) founded in 1973, is a national nonprofit leader in plant-based education, respected for its award-winning websites and newsletters, grants and curricula for youth gardens, and research for the lawn and garden industry. NGA's mission is to advance the personal, community, and educational benefits of gardening by supporting gardeners and teachers with information and resources. To learn more, please visit www.garden.org and www.kidsgardening.org.