MetLife Foundation Grant Provides American Heart Association Teaching Gardens to 12 Underserved Communities

Chicago, Illinois, UNITED STATES


DALLAS, Oct. 24, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The American Heart Association's Teaching Gardens will expand into 12 underserved communities across the U.S. with the help of a $250,000 grant from its first national funder, MetLife Foundation.

Today less than 1 percent of children have ideal cardiovascular health. The Teaching Gardens are a real-life laboratory where students learn how to plant seeds, nurture growing plants, harvest food and ultimately understand the value of good eating habits and the importance of physical activity.

One school in each of these 12 metropolitan areas will receive an American Heart Association Teaching Garden: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Philadelphia, New York City, San Francisco and St. Louis.

"We applaud MetLife Foundation's vision and dedication to support the American Heart Association's Teaching Gardens in communities across America," said William H. Roach Jr., Esq., chairman of American Heart Association. "This grant will allow children in these communities an opportunity to have hands-on experiences and an interactive nutrition curriculum they may not have normally received that could produce life-long heart healthy habits."

Studies show that health interventions at school positively influence healthy behavior in children. The American Heart Association's Teaching Garden program provides hands-on experiences and an interactive curriculum that includes nutrition and physical activity. Children will be given the tools to build a foundation of healthy habits and empower their families to do the same.

MetLife Foundation's grant will also support the evaluation of and learning from the gardens, which will help the American Heart Association refine and expand the program to benefit other communities and schools.

"MetLife Foundation is pleased to support the American Heart Association's Teaching Gardens program to help children understand the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating habits," said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. "Working in these gardens gives kids a hands-on, fun way to learn about proper nutrition and helps them develop healthy habits that can last a lifetime."

The Teaching Gardens are a successful model founded and supported by Kelly Meyer, an environmental and health activist.

To learn more visit www.heart.org/teachinggardens.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke — America's No. 1 and No. 3 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or join us, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or any of our offices around the country, or visit heart.org.

The American Heart Association logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=9940

MetLife Foundation

MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 to carry on MetLife's longstanding tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. The Foundation is committed to building a secure future for individuals and communities worldwide. Through programs focusing on empowering older adults, preparing young people and building livable communities, MetLife Foundation increases access and opportunities for people of all ages. Since it was established, MetLife Foundation has made more than $500 million in grants and $75 million in program related investments. For more information visit www.metlife.org.

About Kelly Meyer

In response to America's childhood obesity crisis, Kelly Meyer created the Teaching Garden program in 2010.  She has been a long-time environmental and health activist. Among her accomplishments, she has helped raise more than $40 million for pioneering cancer research, lobbied Congress to reform the Toxic Substance Control Act, built California's first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum-Certified home and has held prominent positions with the Natural Resources Defense Council. A tireless fundraiser for environmental causes, she recently supported the implementation of the Marine Life Preserve Area on the coast of Southern California.

CONTACT FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES ONLY:

Kristi Manning

214-706-1538

kristi.manning@heart.org