The Wellmark Foundation handed out just over $408,000s Thursday in three grants. Foundation director, Matt McGarvey, says one of the grants is going to the Iowa 4-H Foundation.

“The 4-H Foundation funding is to help extend the work of a U.S.D.A. grant. They are one of only four states in the country that is doing a People’s Garden, school garden pilot program, and this funding will allow them to virtually double that support and extend its work to over three-thousand youth throughout the state of Iowa,” McGarvey said.

Iowa State University received a grant to help in “creating and delivering experimental health education to immerse youth in an environment that fosters healthy behaviors.” The final grant goes to the Iowa Food Systems Council. “The Food System Council funding is really built around the idea of helping address food insecurity, hunger and just generally use local resourced food and food gardens as ways to promote greater food access throughout the state,” according to McGarvey.

He says all three grants share the common theme of nutrition education and food access. “And then just using different forms and venues — like schools and community gardens — using those as ways to teach not just youth, but families and communities as a whole, different ways and different approaches to expose them to different types of food,” McGarvey said.

The overall goal is to make people healthier by eating healthier. “Just making sure what we can do to advance primary prevention and embed healthy habits in people early on. Those will have life-long benefits in people, not just from a cost standpoint, but from a longevity and well being standpoint as well,” McGarvey explains.

For more information, go to the Wellmark Foundation’s website  .