NRPA Awards Funds from Walmart Foundation to Expand Access to Healthy Foods Through Local Parks and Recreation

(August 4, 2020)

Grant funds focus on building capacity of park and recreation agencies to serve as community nutrition hubs

Ashburn, Va. (Aug 4, 2020) – The Walmart Foundation awards a generous $2.5 million grant to the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), the nation’s leading advocate for parks and recreation. NRPA is administering the funds to 15 local park and recreation agencies that will provide field work to implement community nutrition hubs to help expand access to healthy foods and nutrition education through the power of parks and recreation. These nutrition hubs are a strategic piece of the broader vision of parks and recreation to serve as community wellness hubs. The 15 agencies selected to receive grant funding include:   

  • Asheville Parks and Recreation, North Carolina
  • Chicago Park District, Illinois
  • City of Bloomington, Indiana-Parks and Recreation, Indiana
  • City of Kerman, California
  • City of Little Rock, Arkansas
  • City of Ozark-Ozark Leisure Services, Alabama
  • City of Salt Lake (Salt Lake City Corporation), Utah
  • Grow Appalachia, Kentucky
  • Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Texas
  • Indianapolis Parks Foundation, Indiana
  • Integral Youth Services, Oregon
  • Montrose Recreation District, Colorado
  • New London Recreation Department, Connecticut
  • Town of Vivian, Louisiana
  • West Allis-West Milwaukee Recreation and Community Services, Wisconsin

“NRPA is pleased to award these agencies with funding to increase access to healthy foods, social services and physical activity through innovative park and recreation programs that improve and save lives,” said Kristine Stratton, NRPA president and CEO. “Park and recreation agencies everywhere play an integral role in the health and well-being of our communities, and as their champion, we are proud to help strengthen their work through the programs and services we offer, thanks to the support of the Walmart Foundation and other generous partners.” 

NRPA grantees will utilize the funds to support these three primary goals:

  1. Increase access to healthy foods in low-income areas through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) child nutrition programs and older adult meal programs.
  2. Implement diverse models, as well as analyze and share best practices, for park and recreation agencies to serve as nutrition hubs, including screening for food insecurity, providing SNAP/WIC enrollment and retention assistance, establishing referral systems, hosting farmers markets and accepting benefits, and offering intergenerational health literacy and meal programs.
  3. Provide evidence-based nutrition literacy resources that will reduce food insecurity and create behavior change, including increased consumption and preparation of fruits and vegetables, and increased confidence in healthy decision making.

Grantees will spend the 18-month grant period building a coalition of community partners to support the program goals, participating in a dedicated planning period to ensure sustainability, as well as implementing the hub model within their community. NRPA will support these steps through virtual and in-person trainings, ongoing educational opportunities and one-on-one technical assistance.

NRPA's efforts will not only directly support grantees, but also support the entire park and recreation field with the creation of resources; dissemination of training opportunities, capacity building assistance and case studies; and elevation of the parks and recreation as a key driver of food security in communities nationwide. Key resources will include a Health Equity Framework to serve as a tool to help park and recreation professionals apply an equity lens to the development of agencies as nutrition hubs; a Health Impact Evaluation Framework to support park and recreation agencies in their efforts to evaluate the impact of nutrition hub models; and the Parks and Recreation and Healthcare: Best Practices Guide for Partnering to Address Food Insecurity to outline effective practices for partnering with healthcare providers to implement food insecurity screenings and develop referral systems to nutrition hubs.

“Access to healthy food builds the foundation for good health in communities, and parks and recreation departments play a vital role in increasing this access,” said Eileen Hyde, director of sustainable food systems and food access for “Our goal is to improve people’s ability to more consistently consume nutritious food, and that involves connecting people to the food they need where and when they need it. We’re excited to support this great work and look forward to the lessons learned as these 15 agencies begin implementing their programs.”

Nationwide, more than 40 million Americans are food insecure, meaning they lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. The Walmart Foundation grants are helping to increase access to healthy foods to those who need them the most, ensuring that children and families can access the nutritious food they need to be healthy.

Since 2010, funding from the Walmart Foundation has supported local park and recreation agencies in serving 90 million meals to 4.8 million kids. More than 350 cities and thousands of meal sites across the country have benefitted from this partnership. Children also have benefited from programs implementing the Healthy Eating, Physical Activity (HEPA) standards, ensuring that kids have access to healthier environments.

For more information about community wellness hubs, click here to view a video depiction.


About the National Recreation and Park Association

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. With more than 60,000 members, NRPA advances this mission by investing in and championing the work of park and recreation professionals and advocates — the catalysts for positive change in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit


About Philanthropy at Walmart represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. By leaning in where our business has unique strengths, we work to tackle key social issues and collaborate with others to spark long-lasting systemic change. Walmart has stores in 27 countries, employing more than 2 million associates and doing business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. is helping people live better by supporting programs that work to accelerate upward job mobility for frontline workers, address hunger and make healthier, more sustainably-grown food a reality, and build strong communities where Walmart operates. To learn more, visit or find us on Twitter @walmartorg.