DID YOU KNOW: students in our School to Work Alliance Program (SWAP) grow vegetables year-round to learn about horticulture and the culinary industry. They also donate fresh produce to the district’s Hope Family Resource Center to support local families.
The nonprofits Kaiser Permanente and Alliance for a Healthier Generation have partnered to donate more than $20,000 each year since the 2021-2022 school year to support Adams 14’s initiative. SWAP has so far used the funds to purchase an all-season outdoor greenhouse, 15 portable greenhouses, raised beds, soil, seeds, a shed, and gardening equipment for all five community gardens in the district.
Melissa Crawford, the SWAP coordinator, said this project allows students with special needs to engage in work-based learning experiences while contributing to their community. Students learn about food preservation, healthy cooking, and careers in the culinary industry.
“A lot of students never knew that they were good at gardening or had culinary skills,” Crawford said. “After exploring these tracks, they learn about the future possibilities for them. Everybody is eligible for work.”
On Friday, Aug. 18, staff members from Kaiser Permanente and Healthier Generation visited the district’s greenhouse and community gardens in person for the first time.
“It’s been a great project,” said Emma Wahlen, a regional program manager with Healthier Generation. “It’s so nice to see the gardens in action. To actually be here and see it being used is great.”
Wahlen says their nonprofit has supported Adams 14 projects over the last five years.
“Overall at Adams 14, I’ve seen so much growth and opportunity around health and wellness the past few years,” she said. “I’m just very impressed with the district and everyone supporting these efforts.”
Curtis Robbins, a community health program manager for Kaiser Permanente, said it’s “amazing” to see how funding these initiatives can have positive ripple effects for the community.
“We’re just really thrilled with the way Adams 14 has been able to utilize the funding in so many different ways to support the students, staff, and families here,” Robbins said.