Across Pennsylvania, farmers, distributors, educators and school food service professionals are coming together to keep our communities nourished during an extraordinary time. October is National Farm to School Month, and was recently proclaimed Pennsylvania Farm to School Month by Gov. Tom Wolf.
To celebrate, The Food Trust is highlighting the work of individuals who ensure children are connected to local agriculture.
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Philadelphia, PA — The Food Trust’s Board of Directors has appointed community economic and workforce development executive Mark Edwards as president and chief executive officer, effective Oct. 30, 2020.
Edwards joins The Food Trust with an extensive background in community-focused leadership, having served most recently as Director of Workforce Strategies for the State of New Jersey’s Department of Labor, where he led the reform efforts of the WorkFirst New Jersey program for TANF and SNAP recipients. Previously, Edwards served as President and CEO of Philadelphia Works Inc., where he led the organization in modernizing and integrating its operations, expanding its use of data and technology, and significantly increasing both the number of employers using its services and the total number of placements annually. Under Edwards’ leadership, Philadelphia Works also deepened its strategic linkages with other key city agencies and raised over $16.5 million for local neighborhood revitalization and economic development.
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As we continue to process the heartbreak and chaos in Philadelphia and around the country, we want to make one thing abundantly clear: The Food Trust stands with the protesters and condemns racial violence, police brutality, and the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the hundreds who came before them. Black safety, security, opportunity, well-being and survival should be the floor, not the ceiling. Black Lives Matter. Full stop.
The Food Trust’s mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food. The fact that everyone does not have access is rooted in the systemic racism that has infected this country for centuries. In fact, racism has impacted access to housing, education, employment and so much more. The disproportionate impact that COVID-19 is having on communities of color is a living example.
The Food Trust acknowledges that we have not done enough to combat institutional racism, both within our organization and in the communities we serve. Things will never change until we create the change.
We pledge to:
Do better, together with the people and families we serve.
Listen, and understand our privilege.
Lean into discomfort, and learn and commit to change.
Use our position to amplify the voices of those doing crucial anti-racism work.
Teach that food justice is racial justice, and one cannot exist without the other.
Access to healthy food matters for the same reason abolishing racism matters: Equity in all its forms, including access to healthy food, is a right, not a privilege. We all deserve to thrive.
Angel Rodriguez, Chairman, Board of Directors, and Aaron Felder, Interim CEO, on behalf of The Food Trust
PHILADELPHIA, PA — In anticipation of a known hate group’s planned rally in West Philadelphia next weekend, The Food Trust's Clark Park Farmers Market's hours are shifting to 9-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 19. The safety of our community — including neighbors, shoppers, vendors, staff and volunteers — is our top priority; keeping Clark Park open with these reduced and shifted hours allows us to continue to serve our community members who rely on our farmers markets as a critical point of access for healthy, affordable food.
Read The Food Trust's official statement here.
Location: Lancaster, PA
Lancaster Early Education Center (LEEC), which serves 100 children ages 8 weeks through 5 years old, is committed to providing affordable, healthy, high-quality early care and education to children from low-income working families in Lancaster City. With a strong focus on child and staff wellness programming for over three years, LEEC educators have used technical assistance and SNAP-Ed resources to implement a series of Farm to ECE strategies to promote healthy eating, physical activity and access to fresh local foods.
“Parents often equate healthy eating with organic or expensive foods. We want to break that myth,” explains Madeline Reynolds, Director and Farm to ECE champion at LEEC. “Lancaster City is surrounded by many bountiful farms. Healthy, fresh food can be affordable.” To increase awareness of local sources for affordable, fresh foods, LEEC hosts educational field trips to the neighboring central farmers market and has partnered with a local grocery store’s nutritionist to host family workshops and fun classroom nutrition education. The center also hosts cooking demos, taste tests and distributes healthy, affordable recipes for families to take home.
LEEC has also integrated Farm to ECE into its teaching curriculum using STEM and literacy activities to introduce fresh foods, grow herb gardens and cook together in the classroom. LEEC educators are happy to see positive changes in the childrens’ behavior and academic performance as they decrease sugar intake, increased physical activity and healthier diets among children.
Accessible healthy food is crucial in allowing our community to be the best it can be. Not only does this keep our diets balanced, getting the critical nutrients we need, but it also prevents chronic disease, improves mood stability, and promotes a healthier lifestyle.
At The Food Trust, a nationally recognized nonprofit, their goal is to make sure that everyone in the Philadelphia area has the ability to incorporate affordable, nutritious food into their lifestyle. Through education, research, policy change, and community-based programs, they help everyone put wholesome foods on their plates.
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Location: Franklin, PA
PA NAPSACC Focus area: Nutrition: Increasing children’s intake of fiber-rich foods
Offering fruit that is fresh, frozen or canned in its own juice every time fruit is served
Offering high-fiber, whole grain foods two times per day or more
Offering vegetables (not including French fries, tater tots, hash browns or dried beans) two times per day or more
Offering dark green, orange, red or deep yellow vegetables (not including corn) one time per day or more
Brown’s Family Child Care took off running, gardening and sharing healthy snacks when they were one of 23 Early Care and Education sites that piloted a Farm to School continuous quality improvement intervention.
Through a combination of an online resource, GO NAPSACC, and technical assistance provided by The Food Trust, Brown’s Family Child Care set goals for their site to increase the children's intake of fiber rich foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and got to work. The team at Brown's focused on gardening: over the course of the year, each child planted a garden to take home and an onsite garden. The children enjoyed watching it grow and helping pick the vegetables and fruits which were then eaten at snack or lunchtime. The efforts engaged families – children took home seedlings and fresh produce harvested at the site. Brown's also started incorporating 30 minutes of physical activities, which include walks, yoga, or exercise videos for kids. Says Brown's staff, “It was a lot of fun and I plan to have the kids make a bigger garden next year.”
Brown's Family Child Care is a home based facility located in Franklin, PA. They participate in CACFP for meals and snacks and they continue to work on nutrition and physical activities goals. GO NAPSACC is an evidence-based program for improving the health of young children by enhancing child care programs’ practices, policies, and environments. The continuous quality improvement intervention helps child care providers improve the nutrition and physical activity practices within their early childhood care settings.
Philadelphia, PA — After leading the organization for over a decade, Yael Lehmann has transitioned from her role as President and CEO of The Food Trust. Yael led the organization’s evolution from a local nonprofit to a nationally recognized food access organization. We honor her dedication to the organization’s mission. We wish her well in her future endeavors and sincerely appreciate her contributions to The Food Trust throughout her 18 years of service.
We are extremely fortunate that The Food Trust’s Founder, Duane Perry, will help guide the organization during this transition. We are grateful Duane is available to provide his expertise and guidance as we begin the search for a new CEO. And, thanks to our incredible staff, volunteers and supporters, The Food Trust will remain focused on our mission to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions.
Board Chair, The Food Trust
As we give thanks and celebrate ties of friendship and family this holiday season, we are reminded that no one should have to choose between family and food.
As you may know, the Trump administration recently proposed a "public charge" rule — now posted for public comment here — that would make it harder for immigrants and refugees in this country to become eligible to receive federal benefits. If adopted, families across the U.S. would lose access to a range of nutrition, health and housing benefits, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP is the nation's first line of defense against hunger, and provides food for millions of children, seniors, those with disabilities, veterans and working people.
Since the proposal was made public, service organizations across the country have reported drops in enrollment, and believe the administration has created an environment of fear and misinformation. The Food Trust is opposed to this rule, which would harm our efforts and those of our many partners to address food insecurity, healthy food access and poverty. Immigrants and refugees in America can face a myriad of challenges, and should not be afraid to access public assistance to help them deal with setbacks they may encounter along their journey. Their reasons for arrival in this country range from the darkest despair to the highest hope for a better life. As such, this proposal stands in stark contrast to the words engraved on that most American of icons, the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. … Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.”
As we near the end of a 60-day public comment period on December 10, we encourage our partners to provide comments and testimony. The national Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) has developed sample comments and has posted additional information about the rule here; we invite you to join us and add your voice by commenting, and to share this information with your networks. During this time, let us not forget that no one should be afraid to seek help for their children when facing hunger.
The Food Trust
Just over a year ago, the streets of Charlottesville were filled with the anti-Semitic, anti-Black and anti-immigrant chants of hate by white supremacists. That disturbing weekend ended violently, with one protester killed and dozens more injured.
Charlottesville could have been a line in the sand against hate. Instead, violence toward marginalized individuals and communities -- fueled by historical and structural racism and anti-Semitism, and our country’s increasing comfort with nationalism -- continues to escalate: In the last week alone, a gunman shot and killed two Black senior citizens in a grocery store after being refused entry to a Black church where all evidence indicates he intended to open fire on congregants. Over a dozen pipe bombs were sent to politicians and members of the media by an individual with a nationalist and extremist agenda. And another gunman entered a synagogue, killing 11 congregants as they worshiped.
The Food Trust was founded with the mission to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. The word “everyone” is important: As a public health organization committed to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice, we reject the notions of white supremacy, anti-Semitism, hatred and bigotry. We denounce those who would intimidate, oppress, injure or kill some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
In this spirit, we will take the role of ally, follower or leader, as the situation dictates, to achieve our common goals and dismantle systems of oppression wherever we encounter them. We are prepared to make sacrifices for our commitment to these causes. We look forward to working with those of you who share these ideals and values.
Our thoughts are with those grieving these terrible losses, and our actions are focused on utilizing every resource within our power to work toward a more fair and just society for all.
The Food Trust
Congress needs to go back to the drawing board and produce a bipartisan Farm Bill that creates jobs, supports farmers, improves health and ensures that no one in America goes hungry.
Taking food away from families as punishment for not being able to find a job in this economy is the wrong approach. We need to create more good-paying jobs so that fewer Americans need to rely on SNAP. The cuts proposed will also hurt the economy and cause a downward spiral as more jobs are lost and more food assistance is required. The bill also hurts small farmers by cutting programs that promote farmers markets and local food systems and attempts to restructure the national SNAP-Ed nutrition education program in a way that will disrupt services and worsen health outcomes.
While the bill includes some smart policies such as the re-authorization of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative and the expansion of the Food Insecurity Incentive program, it fails to deliver a national food and farm strategy that prevents hunger, strengthens the farm economy, protects the environment and improves health.
--Yael Lehmann, President & CEO, The Food Trust
In America, no child should go hungry, and no parent should have to choose between eating healthy and eating enough. Established in 1933, the Farm Bill is the United States government’s primary vehicle for funding policies and programs relating to food and agriculture—from food safety and nutrition education to employment practices and conservation efforts. Every five years, Congress reauthorizes this sweeping piece of legislation in an effort to prevent hunger, bring fresh foods to communities lacking access, and add vibrancy and diversity to the local food system.
However, funding for critical programs that uplift our food system and provide nutrition benefits to millions of Americans is under threat.
The Trump administration announced its plans for the 2018 Farm Bill, including billions of dollars in cuts that would directly impact families and farmers across the country. The plan, which includes government delivery of a canned food box, has the potential to dramatically disrupt the American food system from farm to fork—exacerbating hunger and health problems, and resulting in store closings and job losses in urban and rural communities alike.
In the Philadelphia region, these issues threaten to dismantle a strong and thriving community foodscape — from food retailers in danger of losing their jobs to farmers at risk of losing their livelihood. Urban and rural communities are inextricably linked through the food system, and each piece of the Farm Bill addresses these connections in one form or another. Food ties us together; and together, we can ensure our food system is resilient, equitable and healthy for years to come.
Where you live can have a huge influence on your day-to-day decisions about what to eat. Over the years, researchers have studied the matter to better understand how our environment can both support and undermine our health and diet. One important finding has been that low-income communities and communities of color often have the fewest places to purchase healthy, affordable food.
As a response to this public health crisis, federal, state and local governments have sought to combat food deserts and food swamps (often one and the same) by starting programs like healthy food financing initiatives (HFFIs), which provide low-cost financing to grocery stores that want to invest in underserved communities. These programs increase access to — and build demand for — healthy food in communities with high rates of diet-related disease and food insecurity. They also provide more jobs in communities that often have high rates of unemployment.
For 30 years, Pittsburgh's Hill District lacked a supermarket, that is, until the opening of a Shop 'n' Save in 2013 through an HFFI program. A recently released study by the RAND Corporation has found that the opening of the new grocery store resulted in less food insecurity and fewer new cases of diet-related disease for community residents. Hill District residents have since experienced fewer new cases of high cholesterol, arthritis and diabetes over time when compared to a similar community that did not receive a supermarket. The supermarket community also experienced less food insecurity, lower SNAP participation and increasing resident incomes. (Since less than 1% of the community moved away from the neighborhood, these improvements can’t be linked to gentrification.)
This study provides strong evidence that introducing a new supermarket in a previously underserved community brings both health and economic gains for local residents. That news alone should encourage elected officials to take more action and double down on their investments to ensure that new and improved supermarkets -- and their corresponding health and economic benefits -- exist in every ZIP code nationwide. No one should have to wait 30 years for a grocery store, and every child should grow up in a community where affordable, healthy food is within reach.
"The farmers market is my happy place.” The Food Trust promotes a healthy lifestyle by providing Rochelle and others access to fresh produce in urban Philadelphia. See how they do it.
Video provided by CNN and Aetna's "American Health Ambitions" series.
The Food Trust was founded 25 years ago with the mission “to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions.” The word “everyone” is important because we as an organization are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion and justice.
The Food Trust is a public health organization and a social justice organization. In light of these most recent events in Charlottesville, VA, we feel it is important and necessary to explicitly and uncategorically reject the notions of white supremacy, anti-Semitism and hatred and bigotry, as well as denounce those who would intimidate, oppress and injure some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
The Food Trust believes that the events in Charlottesville are the most recent examples of horrific individual racism but understand that historical and structural racism have resulted in other forms of violence towards marginalized communities since the inception of this country, and continue today. As one example, as a result of racism, racial minorities bear a disproportionate burden of trauma, morbidity and mortality.
The Food Trust works with partners from all across the country to increase access to healthy food and reduce health disparities. While working to achieve our mission, we also have a responsibility to contribute towards a more fair and just society for all. In this spirit, we will speak out against oppression; we will serve as an ally to those who face oppression and to those who are committed to justice and equity; as the situation dictates, we will take the appropriate role of ally, follower or leader to achieve our common goals and dismantle systems of oppression wherever we encounter them; and we are prepared to make sacrifices for our commitment to these causes.
The Food Trust will utilize every resource within its power to work towards a more just society, and we look forward to working with those of you who share these ideals and values.
The Food Trust
Philadelphia, May 23, 2017– In its recently released budget, the Trump administration has proposed cutting $192 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as the food stamp program, which is responsible for putting food on the table of vulnerable populations across the country. More than half of program participants are children; among the remaining half are large numbers of seniors, the disabled, veterans and working people struggling with low wages. Approximately one in five Americans will be on SNAP at some point in their life.
These drastic cuts would have a negative impact on families and communities across the country. Without proper nutrition, not only will children’s health deteriorate over time, but their academic performance will suffer, as well. Parents will be at higher risk for diabetes, obesity and other diet-related diseases, and their health care costs could rise significantly. The cuts would have other negative economic consequences, too: notably, a detrimental impact on supermarkets, grocery stores and farmers markets in low-income communities, where dollars from SNAP are a critical component of retailers’ weekly sales and farmers’ livelihood.
While the President campaigned on a message of jobs and economic security for all, now in office he is proposing policy changes that will result in more hunger and fewer communities with access to healthy food. Many of those most affected would be working-class rural voters who make up his base of support.
The Food Trust will work at the federal level with partners across the country to urge members of Congress to block these cuts and ensure that SNAP continues to protect the most vulnerable among us.
—Yael Lehmann, Executive Director, The Food Trust
The Food Trust’s Center for Healthy Food Access is a national collaborative effort working to ensure that every child in the United States has access to nutritious, affordable food. For more information, visit centerforhealthyfoodaccess.org.
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From USA Today
50 States: 50 Farmers Markets
May brings farmers markets back outdoors in major cities across the country, and we're showcasing a gathering of local growers and makers in each state to kick off the season. Shop, cook and eat seasonally with produce, spreads, goods and bread in your region at these destination events, from the various vendors open daily at Nashville Farmers Market and New Orleans' French Market, to Saturday markets in California, Kansas and Kentucky.
Find other travel-worthy farmers markets in each state across America.
USA TODAY: Special Edition
"At least 19 million Americans live in food deserts at least a mile from a grocery store in urban areas and 10 miles from a store in rural regions, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS). Congress mandated the study of food deserts, also known as low-income, low-supermarket-access census tracts, as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, said Shelly Ver Ploeg, an ERS economist. But it takes more than adding shiny new markets in these neighborhoods to address this thorny problem, Ver Ploeg said. In fact, the number of supermarkets in the U.S. actually increased between 2010 and 2015. But the number of lowincome households and those without cars also increased — meaning healthy food often was still out of reach for many."
Read the full article here.
Philly.com has recognized The Food Trust as a 2017 Top Workplace in the Philadelphia area. Top Workplaces are not only better places to work but are more likely to be successful than peer organizations.
These awards are based soley on feedback from our staff. To view the full list of top companies and organizations in Philly, click here.