NRPA Receives $1.5 Million Grant to Increase Access to Healthy Foods Through Parks and Recreation | Athletic Business

NRPA Receives $1.5 Million Grant to Increase Access to Healthy Foods Through Parks and Recreation

SOURCE: National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)

Grant funds to focus on two unique cohorts of park and rec agencies piloting innovative models to expand access to healthy foods in parks

Ashburn, Va. (April 4, 2019) – With support from the Walmart Foundation, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has awarded funding to 27 local park and recreation agencies as they work to increase access to healthy foods and nutrition education through parks and recreation.


In 2019, NRPA is pleased to provide grant funding to 27 agencies in two cohorts. A cohort of 17 park and recreation agencies across the country will implement strategies designed to increase access to healthy foods through innovative models. Grantee agencies will receive funding for one of three strategies:

  • Starting or expanding farmers markets or CSA programs at park and recreation sites
  • Starting or expanding intergenerational meal programs at park and recreation sites
  • Addressing transportation barriers by leveraging local assets and piloting innovative models

To complement each of the three strategies, park and recreation agencies must provide meals and snacks through the federal nutrition programs and must introduce evidence-based nutrition education to these programs.

The 17 agencies funded in the innovation cohort include:

  • New Orleans Recreation Department/Market Umbrella, Louisiana
  • City of Farmington Parks and Recreation, New Mexico
  • City of Kerman, California
  • City of Davenport Parks and Recreation, Iowa
  • East Orange Recreation & Cultural Affairs, New Jersey
  • Grow Appalachia, Kentucky
  • Shenandoah County Parks and Recreation, Virginia
  • Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront, Vermont
  • City of Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Lancaster Recreation Commission, Pennsylvania
  • City of Port Huron Recreation Department, Michigan
  • Friends of Mount Vernon Arts, Recreation and Youth Programs, Inc., New York
  • Indianapolis Parks Foundation, Indiana
  • Central Arkansas Library System, Arkansas
  • City of San Jose, Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services, California
  • Mount Airy Parks and Recreation, North Carolina
  • New London Recreation Department, Connecticut

NRPA will also work with a rural cohort of 10 agencies in Alabama, Louisiana and New Mexico to increase their capacity to provide meals and snacks and nutrition education, and to adopt healthy eating and physical activity practices and policies. This cohort will provide insight into the barriers rural communities face in providing these services to children, as well as the assets these communities can leverage to improve health outcomes. The 10 agencies funded in the rural cohort include:

  • City of Socorro, New Mexico
  • Pueblo of Sandia, New Mexico
  • Raton Housing Authority, New Mexico
  • City of Eunice-Eunice Rec, Louisiana
  • Town of Vivian, Louisiana
  • City of DeRidder, Louisiana
  • City of Franklin, Louisiana
  • City of Andalusia, Alabama
  • City of Elba Recreation, Alabama
  • City of Ozark, Alabama

Through NRPA and the Walmart Foundation’s continued partnership, the $1.5 million grant provided will focus on three main goals:

  • Increasing access to healthy foods in low-income areas, including rural, through the USDA child nutrition programs (SFSP, CACFP and/or NSLP) during out-of-school times;
  • Providing evidence-based nutrition literacy to children and families that creates behavior change, including increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and increased confidence in healthy decision making; and
  • Implementing, analyzing and sharing best practices of innovative food access strategies in rural, suburban and urban communities, including establishing and expanding farmers markets, starting intergenerational meal programs and addressing transportation barriers.

Funding will be used to support the innovative strategies, including meal service equipment, transportation, staffing, marketing, healthy living opportunities, family engagement and enrichment activities, including nutrition education and community gardening, etc. In addition, these year-long grants provide numerous opportunities for collaboration, networking, training and technical assistance to ensure that grantees can sustain this work in the future.

“NRPA is thankful for the Walmart Foundation’s support for local park and recreation agencies who make health and wellness a priority in the communities they serve — especially during out-of-school time,” said Kellie May, NRPA vice president of programs. “We look forward to the continued success of this nationwide effort in helping children access healthy food and lead a healthier lifestyle.”

“Our vision for a sustainable food system is one that will require combining efforts to improve access to healthier foods with approaches to increase people’s confidence to select, prepare and serve healthier foods,” said Eileen Hyde, director of strategic initiatives for the Walmart Foundation. “The Walmart Foundation looks to prioritize reaching communities that experience higher rates of food insecurity and diet-related diseases, focusing on programs that are culturally and geographically relevant to support those communities. We are committed to invest in programs that impact communities at scale, and the National Recreation and Park Association grants to these 27 agencies is a great example of this work in action.” 

Across the country, more than 40 million Americans are food insecure, meaning they lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. The Walmart Foundation grants are helping to increase access to healthy foods to those who need them the most, ensuring that children and families can access the nutritious food they need to be healthy.

Since 2010, funding from the Walmart Foundation has supported local park and recreation agencies in serving 90 million meals to 4.8 million kids. More than 325 cities and thousands of meal sites across the country have benefited from this partnership. Children have also benefited from programs implementing the Healthy Eating, Physical Activity (HEPA) standards, ensuring that kids have access to healthier environments.

About the National Recreation and Park Association 
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

About Philanthropy at Walmart
By using our strengths to help others, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation create opportunities for people to live better every day. Walmart has stores in 27 countries, employing more than 2.2 million associates and doing business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. Our philanthropy helps people live better by supporting upward job mobility and economic development for the retail workforce; addressing hunger and making healthier, more sustainably-grown food a reality; and building strong communities where Walmart operates and inspiring our associates to give back. To learn more about Walmart’s giving, visit

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