A former Mooresville school teacher is helping a grocery chain combat childhood obesity in local communities.
Brooke Faw, 26, joined the Huntersville Earth Fare team two years ago and said the epidemic of overweight youth is a cause close to her own heart. The Denver resident was formerly a schoolteacher in Indiana and at Rocky River Elementary in Mooresville.
“I definitely saw a generation that was struggling when I was teaching. Kids looked a lot different coming through my classroom than when I was growing up,” said Faw. “I wanted to be proactive …and decided to help kids with obesity fight in this aspect, rather than the classroom.”
Faw is now the director of the Friends of Earth Fare Foundation, an organization that has spent the past year preparing to accept and fund grant applications from organizations that promote and provide access to healthy food choices and activity for kids.
The foundation is under Earth Fare Inc., the Asheville-based chain of grocery stores that has 28 stores across eight states.
Charlotte has two Earth Fare locations – one in South Park and one in Ballantyne – and Rock Hill, S.C., has an Earth Fare as well. The Huntersville store that serves Lake Norman celebrated its first anniversary in August, said Kristi Kanzig, Earth Fare Inc.’s assistant director of marketing.
Kanzig said the past year has been spent getting the foundation ready to serve communities and help a wide range of organizations.
“We’re huge about being out in the community and supporting them,” Kanzig said. “We’re committed to making sure we’re providing people, families, children with ways to educate themselves and be interactive with the food they’re eating. It’s definitely a broad scope (of work).”
Kanzig said whether it’s an after-school program that provides healthy snacks or a group that promotes kids being active, Friends of Earth Fare can provide up to $5,000 annually to organizations within 20 miles of an Earth Fare location.
Criteria for organizations interested in applying for a grant include being a 501(c) (3) that’s been established at least a year, and one that serves kids pre-K to high school, said Kanzig.
Over the past quarter, the foundation has quietly had “a soft launch,” Faw said. They’ve been able to fund a few grants so far, she said, but they’ll have a larger kick-off event in April with a 5K race and benefit party in Asheville.
“(The foundation) will make it public what we stand for and how we hope to make a difference.”
Kanzig said Friends of Earth Fare Foundation is definitely ready to start serving communities. “It’s a learning process, and (we’re) learning a lot from people who have already applied. We’re only continuing to gain momentum,” said Kanzig. “Every month we get more applications … (We’re) looking forward to it being a resource to people in the community.”
The ultimate goal of the foundation’s work? Kanzig and Faw both said the goal is increased awareness, a goal promoted by first lady Michelle Obama.
“The first lady is really involved with kids being active and not spending so much screen time, getting out and being outside,” said Faw. “(Increased) awareness of what’s in our food and to eat well-balanced (diets.)”
Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter: @htrenda
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