May 31, 2023 – Madera, California – Valley Children’s Hospital has received a $25,000 Connecting Communities grant from Rite Aid Healthy Futures for a second year in a row to support its Kids Eat Smart Program.
In 2019, Valley Children’s established its Kids Eat Smart Program to advance pediatric health and wellness in the community by introducing nutritious food options to children. It has allowed children ages 12 and younger to enjoy free fruits while they shop with their families inside several grocery stores in Fresno. This year, the program has shifted to the 93706 Market, a project of Fresno Housing, to provide fresh fruits and vegetables in a neighborhood typically underserved by grocery stores and to support local farmers who provide the produce used for Kids Eat Smart.
Research shows that children who are exposed to healthier foods during childhood are more likely to select healthier food options into adulthood.
“We are grateful to Rite Aid Healthy Futures for continuing to support our mission of improving the health and well-being of children in our communities,” said Lynne Ashbeck, Valley Children’s senior vice president and chief community impact officer. “We know that the more our kids have a chance to try a new fruit or vegetable, the more likely they are to develop improved eating habits over time. And healthy food choices are a leading factor in childhood diseases like diabetes and obesity. Through the Guilds Center for Community Health, Valley Children’s is actively engaged in efforts to keep kids well in the communities where they live, learn and play so that they may require fewer visits to emergency departments or develop fewer, lifelong chronic diseases early in their lives.”
“Healthy communities create healthier and more resilient children, and the reality is hunger and food insecurity prevent far too many children, families and communities from reaching their full and inherent potential,” said Matt DeCamara, executive director of Rite Aid Healthy Futures. “We have a call to action – to say ‘enough is enough’ when we see so many of our neighbors and neighborhoods facing hunger every day. As a society, we must affect change and strive for more enduring solutions. By partnering with these incredible hospitals across the country, we hope to reach kids and families where the need is greatest and treat healthy food as life-changing medicine.”
With the vision of creating healthier, more equitable neighborhoods, Rite Aid Healthy Futures has provided more than $4.5 million in grant funding to leading children’s hospitals across the country, giving them additional resources to address hunger and food insecurity through innovative, community-rooted initiatives. A total of 42 hospitals serving Rite Aid’s 17-state footprint received grants ranging from $25,000 to $300,000 through Healthy Futures’ Connecting Communities signature initiative.
Launched in 2021, the Connecting Communities program finds innovative ways to link major institutions and their communities to nurture and promote health equity for children, especially those who may already be receiving medical care or living with a serious illness such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity, among others.
Source: Valley Children’s Healthcare, Madera, CA.