On-campus teaching garden renovation and monthly food distributions will increase healthy food access for students and families
National nonprofit Heart of America and Anthem Blue Cross, in partnership with iHeartMedia, announced today an effort aimed at serving under-resourced communities in Los Angeles by addressing hunger and food insecurity at Manual Arts High School in Vermont Square. As part of Heart of America’s mission to transform educational spaces into modern learning environments, they will lead the renovation of the Manual Arts High School teaching garden into a sustainable resource that provides healthy food and nutrition education.
Manual Arts High School, founded in 1910, is one of the oldest high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District and serves more than 1,300 students. With approximately 1 in 4 kids in Los Angeles struggling with hunger, the collaboration aims to provide a practical, sustainable resource that will help Manual Arts students and their families access fresh fruits and vegetables.
Jill Hardy Heath, President & CEO of Heart of America, is inspired by the partnership, saying, “our partnership with the Manual Arts High School community represents the absolute best of our mission to end the inequities in education. It shows what’s possible when nonprofits and community-minded corporations like iHeartMedia and Anthem Blue Cross partner together with school leadership to develop tailor-made solutions. The renovation of the edible garden and outdoor area is a central part of the school’s vision for its students, and the ongoing food distribution will serve as a beacon for students and their families.”
Targeted for completion this Fall, the garden transformation project will feature a re-imagined space that will include new landscaping and plant layout. The space will be designed with students and teachers to serve as a hub for distributing student-grown fruits, vegetables and herbs, while also functioning as an outdoor learning environment to teach skills related to nutrition education, cooking, and overall health and wellness. The collaboration will also include recurring food distributions made possible by funding from Anthem Blue Cross.
“This partnership represents the sense of community and belonging we seek to foster here at Manual Arts High School. The renovation of our outdoor space, and especially the garden, in addition to the free food distributions is going to help our students and their families unlock their full potential,” said Marcus Porter, Principal of Manual Arts High School.
The program at Manual Arts High School is part of an initiative being implemented in four cities with Anthem’s sister companies and Heart of America, focused on creating customized solutions to address hunger and lack of access to healthy food by building learning gardens, food pantries and teaching kitchens in high-need schools. Anthem has also engaged the WNBA franchise in each city to participate, with the LA Sparks joining the effort at Manual Arts.
“We are proud to partner with Heart of America, iHeartMedia and Manual Arts High School in bringing this community garden to life,” said Beth Andersen, President, Anthem Blue Cross commercial plans. “During these times, our ongoing commitment to improving lives and communities by helping meet the needs of our most vulnerable populations has remained steadfast. Together, our efforts will help make a measurable impact on the health of the students and families of Manual Arts High School today and into the future.”
“The teaching garden renovation will reenergize the school community, offer real life application of California Standards and build community among the students, families and staff who will care for it,” Local District Central Superintendent Frances Baez said. “We thank Heart of America, Anthem Blue Cross and iHeartMedia for their investment in Manual Arts High School.”
iHeartMedia, the number one audio company in the United States, and its network of local and national influencers are joining the effort by raising awareness in each participating city to help listeners learn and understand that anywhere from 1-in-4 to 1-in-7 children are experiencing hunger in their communities on any given day.
Heart of America has led in addressing education inequity across the United States for nearly 25 years by delivering high-quality resources and engaging spaces to underserved students and campuses. Since its inception, Heart of America has rebuilt and revitalized nearly 800 spaces including school libraries, cafeterias, gymnasiums, college and career centers, tech labs and many more education spaces across North America.
About Anthem Blue Cross
Anthem Blue Cross has been serving the health insurance needs of California residents since 1937. Anthem Blue Cross, together with its branded affiliates, provides health care services to more than 8.2 million health plan members in California, including a broad network of more than 65,000 providers. Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Association. To learn more, visit www.anthem.com/ca or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.
About Heart of America
Heart of America provides high-quality resources and transforms spaces in under-resourced schools, helping to close the gap in education spending by creating modern learning environments that are essential for children to reach their potential in a rapidly changing world. Through a six-step process that prioritizes listening and learning before taking action, HOA designs and transforms spaces, and builds partnerships, ensuring true collaboration and long-term sustainability. Heart of America has served more than two million students in need by distributing more than four million books, investing $4.5 million in technology, and transforming nearly 800 school libraries, cafeterias, gymnasiums, college and career centers, tech labs, and many more educational spaces in historically-marginalized communities across North America.
About iHeartMedia, Inc.
iHeartMedia, Inc. [Nasdaq: IHRT] is the leading audio media company in America, reaching over 250 million people each month. It is number one in both broadcast and digital streaming radio as well as podcasting and audio ad tech and includes three business segments: The iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group; the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group; and the Audio and Media Services Group. Visit iHeartMedia.com for more company information.
Mike Bowman, Anthem Public Relations Director