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Louisiana First Lady Donna Edwards Joins United Health and Whole Kids Foundations to Award 16 Garden

On Tuesday, April 17, Louisiana First lady Donna Edwards joined United Health Foundation and Whole Kids Foundation today to award 16 grants totaling $40,000 to Louisiana schools and youth organizations. The announcement event was held at Grow Dat Youth Farm in New Orleans City Park.

Each grant recipient will receive a grant to build or expand existing vegetable gardens, salad bars or beehives, and provide educational resources about agriculture, caring for the environment and maintaining healthy lifestyles. The grants are being provided by a partnership between United Health Foundation and Whole Kids Foundation to address hunger and support nutrition education.

Grant Recipients Include:

Rapides Exploratory Educ. House, Inc. – Alexandria

Berchmans Academy of the Sacred Heart – Grand Coteau

Shady Grove Elementary - Monroe

Bayou Vista Elementary School – Morgan City

Livingston Collegiate (part of Collegiate Academies network) – New Orleans

Encore Academy – New Orleans

Mary D. Coghill Charter School – New Orleans

Fannie C. Williams Charter School – New Orleans

Dolores T. Aaron Academy – New Orleans

Audubon Nature Institute, Inc. – New Orleans

Little Pearl Elementary School – Pearl River

Ruston Elementary School – Ruston

Saint Martin Parish Schools/St. Martinville

Primary School – St. Martinville

Evangeline Parish School Board – Ville Platte

Live Oak Middle School –Watson

“Nourishing minds and bodies is critical to helping children succeed in school,” said Edwards. “Research shows that eating a healthy breakfast and lunch improves student attendance, discipline and academic performance.”

Edwards, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Louisiana Chief Medical Officer Dr. Julie Morial, Whole Kids Foundation President and Executive Director Nona Evans, Grow Dat Youth Farm Executive Director Devon Turner, and other education and health care leaders hosted a discussion about health challenges facing their communities at the Grow Dat Youth Farm in New Orleans, one of the grant recipients. Grow Dat Youth Leaders led guests on a Walk & Talk around the farm.

“Magic happens when a child plants a seed that grows into something natural and healthy to eat,” Evans said. “These grants will help give many children the opportunity to grow their own nutritious food, and this experience will shape healthy eating choices for the rest of their lives.”

Studies show school gardening, combined with a healthy lunch program or nutrition education, encourages healthier food choices. Children are also more likely to eat fruits and vegetables they have grown themselves.

According to America’s Health Rankings, more than a third of Louisiana children ages 10-17 are overweight or obese. This is higher than the national average of 31 percent.

“These schools and organizations are creating a positive environment where young people can make healthy choices that will sustain them for a lifetime,” said Dr. Morial. “On behalf of United Health Foundation, we are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this initiative to give students the tools they need to succeed and become healthy, productive adults.”

About United Health Foundation

Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, United Health Foundation has committed nearly $358 million to programs and communities around the world. We invite you to learn more at

About Whole Kids Foundation®

Whole Kids Foundation, a Whole Foods Market foundation, is based in Austin, Texas, and operates as an independent, nonprofit organization. By empowering schools and inspiring families, the Foundation aims to help children reach optimal health through the strength of a healthy body fueled by nutritious food. For more information on the Foundation’s programs, including school gardens, salad bars and nutrition education for teachers, visit

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.2 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at or follow @UHC on Twitter.

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Photo 1 (L-R): Grant recipient Christy Kane, Encore Academy-New Orleans; Nona Evans, president & executive director of Whole Kids Foundation; Louisiana First Lady Donna Edwards; Devon Turner, executive director Grow Dat Youth Farm; Grant recipient Rene Merino Encore Academy-New Orleans; and Dr. Julie Morial, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Louisiana.

Photo 2: Louisiana First Lady Donna Edwards tours the Grow Dat Youth Farm led by Youth Leader, Sean Winford.

Photo 3: UnitedHealthcare employees volunteer in the garden at Grow Dat Youth Farm in New Orleans.

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