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.
Visit The Food Trust's Press Room by clicking here.
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.
On Feb. 16, 2017, Get HYPE Philly!, a collective of 10 nonprofits led by The Food Trust and funded by a $5 million GSK IMPACT Grant, was named a winner of the inaugural Health Means Business Healthy10 Awards by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
The awards, created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, honor 10 outstanding business-led initiatives or cross-sector collaborations between local businesses and traditional and nontraditional partners to improve community wellness and access to economic opportunity.
“Get HYPE Philly! has already inspired nearly 20,000 young Philadelphians to eat healthier, get moving and develop their leadership skills,” said Becki Lynch, Manager, Community Partnerships at GSK. “We are so proud to support this work to make Philadelphia an even healthier community.”
Read the full press release here.
JANUARY 18, 2017: In recognition of our work with Night Market Philadelphia and overall efforts to grow and better the mobile food business community, The Food Trust was presented with the Leadership and Advocacy Award by the Philly Mobile Food Association (PMFA).
Night Market Philadelphia has been around since 2010 and has grown leaps and bounds to host the most awaited street food festivals during the summer. It has become an institution that not only celebrates good food but also enlivens neighborhoods and empowers local entrepreneurs, The Food Trust can't wait to see what it will accomplish in the years to come.
The Food Trust, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is launching a national collaborative effort – the Center for Healthy Food Access – that will work to increase access to and demand for healthy foods and beverages in underserved urban and rural communities.
“Through our 25 years of working on these issues, we know that accessing healthy food is still a challenge, particularly for children and families in low-income neighborhoods, communities of color and rural areas,” says Yael Lehmann, executive director of The Food Trust. “Now more than ever, it’s important for diverse stakeholders to come together to demonstrate our support for programs and policies that can make the healthy choice the easy choice in every neighborhood.”
Read the entire press release here.
Article co-authored by The Food Trust, published in Preventing Chronic Disease:
Urban corner store interventions have been implemented to improve access to and promote purchase of healthy foods. However, the perspectives of store owners and managers, who deliver and shape these interventions in collaboration with nonprofit, government, and academic partners, have been largely overlooked. We sought to explore the views of store owners and managers on the role of their stores in the community and their beliefs about health problems and solutions in the community.
Executive director Yael lehmann's public statement
The Philadelphia soda tax will not only be a means to pay for universal pre-K, an investment in our children which could help lift an entire generation out of poverty, but is also part of a comprehensive strategy to curb the consumption of sugary drinks, ultimately helping reverse our city’s obesity and diabetes epidemic. Mayor Kenney and City Council should be applauded for taking this bold step to improve the health and well-being of Philadelphians, especially our children.
With the passing of this tax, Philadelphia is on the front lines in the battle against urban poverty and diet-related disease - and the rest of the nation is watching. Since we have their attention, it should be noted that the soda tax will serve as a part of a comprehensive approach to decrease the consumption of soda and increase access and consumption of water. ...
Read the rest of her statement here.
The Food Trust has launched an 8-week-long Summer Research Institute (SRI) running from June through August 2017.
This year’s Institute will focus on collecting data about food behaviors and food access, particularly how far residents travel to corner stores, grocery stores and farmers markets.
SRI participants work with The Food Trust's Research & Evaluation team and in small groups for field work. They also participate in weekly in-office trainings on a range of evaluation topics such as evaluation planning; research and evaluation ethics; quantitative, qualitative and geospatial research methods; data collection strategies for surveys, interviews and observations; data management, analysis and reporting; and presentation skills.
On May 4 and 5, The Food Trust, along with partners PolicyLink and Reinvestment Fund, co-hosted the fifth annual National Convening on Healthy Food Access in Washington, D.C. The two-day conference brought together over 150 stakeholders, including grantees of the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), representatives from the White House and federal agencies, grantmakers and advocates of healthy food financing from across the country.
HFFI is a partnership between the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Agriculture to provide financing for developing and equipping grocery stores, small retailers, corner stores and farmers markets selling healthy food in underserved areas.
To open the Convening, The First Lady sent the group these remarks.