Growing healthy lifestyles.
Over 10 years ago, that objective was the lofty goal Albertsons Companies Foundation and The Vons Foundation began a long-term, multi-level strategic partnership with LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program to improve the communities the two organizations both serve. The Foundation and LA’s BEST agree: growing healthier habits in the city’s children today leads directly to brighter futures tomorrow.
The Foundation has granted more than $200,000 to LA’s BEST during this ongoing partnership, but giving money alone is not enough to make a real difference. The funds have supported an impressive variety of initiatives to bring about true change:
- The Foundation has underwritten the LA’s BEST Annual Family Health Festival. Each year, both the children in the after school program and their families attend an outdoor event that combines fun in the sun, healthy food demonstrations and tastings, photo opportunities with famous athletes, and demonstrations of enjoyable forms of exercise like double-dutch-style jump-roping and zumba dancing.
- The Foundation has sponsored the installation of edible gardens right on the campuses of LA’s BEST schools. These native plants create local habitats that attract birds, butterflies, and insects, which pollinate the edible plants, helping the gardens to thrive.
- LA’s BEST also uses the gardens as outdoor classrooms to teach urban youth the basics about growing food, good nutrition and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Children plant seeds, maintain the gardens, learn ecology, harvest fruits and vegetables, and use the produce in nutrition workshops.
- Even the students who are not enrolled in LA’s BEST benefit from the on-campus oasis for reading or relaxing, as well as the aesthetic appeal the gardens add to the asphalt and concrete. These gardens benefit children in neighborhoods that frequently have a lack of healthy food options, and have suffered from the associated health problems for generations.
- But it doesn’t end there. The Albertsons Companies Foundation and The Vons Foundation also provides employees on-site as volunteers for installations, events, maintenance of the grounds, and gardening projects.
This long standing partnership is a vivid example of the value of expanded learning, an approach to education that LA’s BEST advocates. LA’s BEST students learn about math, science, biology, geology and nutrition in an engaging, tactile environment by building and maintaining these gardens. Without the support of The Albertsons Companies Foundation and The Vons Foundation, this wouldn’t be possible.
The mission of LA’s BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow) After School Enrichment Program is to provide a safe and supervised after school education, enrichment and recreation program for children ages five to 12 in the City of Los Angeles. Mayor Tom Bradley created LA’s BEST in 1988 in response to challenges arising from increasing numbers of unsupervised children throughout the city during out-of-school-time – especially within economically-distressed Los Angeles neighborhoods that are disproportionately impacted by high rates of poverty and crime. LA’s BEST has grown from operating at 10 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) elementary school sites to 194, and currently serves more than 25,000 children each day during the after school hours, and thousands more in the LA’s BEST Summer Program each year.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with The Albertsons Companies Foundation and The Vons Foundation,” said Edith Ballesteros, Director of the BEST Fit health and nutrition program at LA’s BEST. “They are one of our strongest partners. They have a work ethic similar to ours at LA’s BEST – hardworking, dedicated and committed to going the extra mile for our students.”
As this fruitful partnership continues to grow this spring, The Albertsons Companies Foundation and The Vons Foundation sponsored a garden makeover at Crescent Heights Elementary. LA’s BEST will also host its Annual Family Brunch on Sunday May 22nd, 2016.
To learn more about LA’s BEST, visit www.lasbest.org.