Founding Executive Director | 2011 — 2022
In 2011, Whole Foods Market established a foundation dedicated to improving children’s nutrition. I was honored to be Whole Kids Foundation’s first Executive Director and given the chance to build programs and a team that would go on to become one of the most consequential change agents in school food in the U.S., U.K. and Canada.
It all started with my experience as a mom. Up until the time my son was four, he ate everything. One day, he came home from preschool and for the first time, I heard him say the word YUCK. I asked where he had learned that. “Summer,” he said matter-of-factly. Summer was his best friend, and if she didn’t like something, neither did he. And then, when he was five, we planted a garden. The boy who once picked anything green out of his meals discovered that he loved cilantro — and ate it by the handfuls. In the garden, it was game on for adventurous eating!
Today, we know that students who grow food are more willing to try a long list of vegetables. I always remind parents that kids’ taste buds are constantly changing. What they didn’t like last week might become their favorite next week. As discouraging as it can be, continue to offer kids choices: When they have healthy choices, they will make healthy choices.
What sets Whole Kids Foundation apart is the collaborative spirit with which the team approaches everything. I always loved sharing that our grants are simply a down payment on a relationship. And it’s the relationships formed with students, parents, teachers, schools, districts, nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies that is leading to the lasting change created as Whole Kids Foundation supports salad bars, gardens and educational beehives in schools and helps entire school districts shift from processed food to scratch cooking.
For over a decade as the Foundation’s Executive Director, I saw again and again that you need two ingredients to grow healthy kids — love and veggies. And that is my wish for everyone.