Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation Awards $100K to First Place AZ for Nutrition and Gardening Initiative

Photo: First Place–Phoenix residents show off the “fruits” of their gardening labors. (Photo Credit: First Place AZ)

Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation has awarded First Place® AZ, an Arizona nonprofit that serves individuals with autism and neurodiversities, a two-year, $100,000 grant for its Sprouts First to the Table Gardening and Nutrition Initiative.

Funding supports the building of two gardens in the Phoenix area, the maintenance of two existing gardens in the Valley, the development of a corps of volunteers and the harvesting of fresh food.

The two new gardens include one for Stepping Stone residential property developed by Native American Connections and the other for Spectrum Courtyard Apartments by the Foundation for Senior Living. First Place will also maintain two existing gardens at First Place–Phoenix and 29 Palms, the nonprofit’s first multigenerational property and former beta site.

First Place residents will volunteer to harvest the gardens with property residents and use select, fresh ingredients from its own First Place-Phoenix garden in its culinary teaching kitchen, where they will prepare nutritious dishes and build out a new series of instructional videos.

“Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation is proud to support First Place AZ as a changemaker working to create healthier, more vibrant and connected communities,” said Lyndsey Waugh, Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation executive director.

McCarthy Building Companies Southwest Region and five of its trade vendors committed generous support for the infrastructure build-out of the new Stepping Stone garden by donating $32,000 in labor, materials and equipment. They also provided irrigation infrastructure, concrete work and ADA-compliant steel planters.

“We are passionate about strengthening our neighborhoods and improving lives,” said Brittany Calbert, project manager for McCarthy Southwest. “For the Stepping Stone vegetable garden serving the chronically homeless, we paid special attention to accessibility for residents who use walkers and wheelchairs. This project was a joy for our team and our incredible trade partners who collaborated on the build-out.”

First Place–Phoenix is an 81,000-square-foot, 55-unit apartment property with a suite of supports and amenities for individuals with autism, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injury and other neurodiversities. Ushering in a new era of housing and community options for special populations, First Place combines apartments, the Transition Academy residential life skills program and the Global Leadership Institute to expand more independent, community-integrated living options.

“As individuals with autism gain greater independence, it is important they learn about healthy food options and sustainable ways to feel their best,” said Denise D. Resnik, First Place founder and president/CEO.


About Julie Coleman

Julie Coleman is a contributing writer for Frontdoors Media. She is Principal of Julie Coleman Consulting, providing strategic philanthropy consulting services for individuals, families, businesses, foundations and nonprofit organizations.
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