The Mario Batali Foundation (MBF) has made three major grants to improve literacy and nutrition for children in need in the Boston area.

Kicking off the MBF initiative on Friday, March 31st at the Action for Boston Community Development’s (ABCD) Geneva Avenue Head Start program in Dorchester, the Mario Batali Foundation and its three grantees – Books for Kids, First Book and FoodCorps – will join together to present the programs being implemented and expanded in Boston with this funding.

To launch this exciting initiative, Mario Batali will do a reading to local children of Green Eggs and Ham, followed by a ribbon-cutting to dedicate the new MBF/Books for Kids library at ABCD, and a personal greeting from Mario to educators and families attending a special First Book Book Fair.

“This initiative in Boston represents the first time the Mario Batali Foundation has brought together three of its grantees and two Head Start centers to make a real impact in a single city by having good books and good food practices accessible where they’re needed most,” said Mario Batali. “We are honored to work with these organizations that do important work every day.”

Books for Kids

Two brand-new libraries will be opened by the Foundation and Books for Kids, one at the ABCD Geneva Avenue Head Start and another at Horizons for Homeless Children. Each library will be beautifully designed and filled with an age-appropriate collection based on the core group of standard titles recommended by the Department of Education and early childhood literacy experts, as well as titles specially selected by Mario Batali for healthy eating and living. The books are carefully selected to reflect the backgrounds and life experiences of the children in the library’s community. Each library will also have a Mario Batali Foundation-funded Library Specialist and literacy program, as well as a lending program to allow books to be taken home by the children and their families.

The opening of these two new Books for Kids libraries marks the 15th and 16th Books for Kids libraries funded by the Mario Batali Foundation around the country.

First Book

First Book will distribute more than 20,000 brand-new books and resources to Boston educators serving children in need through the generosity of the Mario Batali Foundation. Following the library opening, hundreds of teachers and educators serving kids in need will be able to browse 10,000 age-appropriate, culturally relevant books, and take dozens of books home or to their programs at no cost. In addition, 2,000 books will be given to families served by the two MBF/Books for Kids Boston libraries, so children can continue reading at home. Finally, First Book will be shipping another 10,000 free books to educators throughout Boston who were not able to attend the event.

FoodCorps

Expanding on its community and school support in Boston and Massachusetts for the past five years, FoodCorps is creating a future in which every school is a healthy school, and every child is well nourished and ready to learn. This new matching grant from the Mario Batali Foundation will enable FoodCorps to expand its Greater Boston area program and scale up service corps members in the area, reaching more than 7,500 children in Boston and Massachusetts with the nourishment and hands-on food education that will help to ensure a lifetime of healthy eating. The FoodCorps curriculum includes hands-on lessons in gardening, cooking, and tasting healthy food; cafeteria improvements that steer students toward the healthiest options and emphasize local sourcing; and an overall culture of health that gets staff, students, and families on board to transform the entire school community in meaningful, lasting ways.

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