Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) has received a $20,000 grant from Conagra Brands Foundation to support the council’s GirlSpace Chicago Healthy Living initiative.
“The Conagra Brands Foundation focuses a majority of its efforts on making a positive impact on the issue of hunger in the communities where we live and work. To help alleviate hunger, we support a variety of high impact community initiatives including healthy and active lifestyles programs,” said Nicole Noren, Senior Specialist, Community Investment, for Conagra Brands. “The GirlSpace Chicago Healthy Living program provides girls with education on how to make informed, healthy food choices and reinforces valuable principles needed to lead a healthy lifestyle. Not only is there clear alignment in our end goal, the outcomes from this program will provide the girls an increased understanding and knowledge of how to live a healthy lifestyle. We are proud to support this program and excited to partner with the Girl Scouts.”
The grant has helped Girl Scouts such as Deanna, who is a student at Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Paideia Academy in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood.
“Currently, Deanna lives in a community that is a food desert and she can’t go to her local store to get fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Ede Crittle, Director of Community Outreach for GSGCNWI. “Since participating in our healthy living program, she has learned the importance of adding more fruits and vegetables to her daily meals, as well as exercise and proper sleep.”
Additionally, Deanna shared that Girl Scouts has been a lifesaver for her.
“She believes Girl Scouting has helped her build the courage and confidence to achieve her full potential and she wants to be a dietician or fitness instructor when she grows up,” said Crittle.
GirlSpace Healthy Living is one of three 12-week components that comprise GirlSpace, an after-school program for at-risk girls that operates year-round and partners with approximately 40 Chicago schools and Chicago Park District sites on the city’s underserved South and West sides. The program reaches about 3,000 girls annually and seeks to bring the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to life through a variety of curricular areas, including STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), financial literacy and healthy living.
“We know that alleviating hunger is a multi-dimensional societal issue and has to be addressed through various avenues,” said Noren. “We believe that providing access to nutrition education and healthy lifestyle programs is a key component to alleviating hunger.”
The program is offered in other Chicago neighborhoods as well such as Auburn-Gresham, Bridgeport, Chatham, East Garfield Park, Englewood and Woodlawn. More than 113,000 girls have been served through GirlSpace since it began in the mid-1980s.