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.
"I knew that I wanted to work in food (and public health) when I realized there was an actual term for what I had known existed in Philadelphia all my life. I grew up in Philadelphia, but unlike many residents, I had the fortune of growing up near a supermarket. It was located in a suburb that bordered my neighborhood in Northwest Philly, a section called Cedarbrook. As a child, I remember my mother pointing out that in other sections of the city, residents did not have access to a supermarket.
Fast forward about 15 years, when in graduate school I learned that there was an epidemic of chronic disease in communities with limited access to healthy, affordable food. These places were called “food deserts.” I remember having an ‘aha’ moment and thinking to myself, “You mean to tell me this thing has a name??!!”
Access to healthy, affordable (and delicious) food seems like common sense to me – a very simple concept. That’s why focusing my work on food access, especially in under served communities, just makes sense to me…why shouldn’t everyone have access to healthy food? (Also, I love to eat. LOVE IT.)"
Learn more about Nija and the work she does to improve access to healthy affordable food in the rest of her interview.
It’s a high compliment to be considered one of the raddest women in Philadelphia. The second annual Rad Awards were held last night at Stratus Rooftop Lounge as part of Philly Tech Week. The event is an offshoot of rad-girls.com, which celebrates awesome local women. ...
Accordingly, in her acceptance speech, Lehmann gave individual shoutouts to the other nominees. “I just want to say that all the other nonprofits, I have a lot of respect for,” she said.
The American Journal of Public Health
Effects of Proximity to Supermarkets on a Randomized Trial Studying Interventions for Obesity
OBJECTIVES: To determine whether proximity to a supermarket modified the effects of an obesity intervention.
METHODS: The study examined 498 children aged 6 to 12 years with a body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile participating in an obesity trial in Massachusetts in 2011 to 2013. The practice-based interventions included computerized clinician decision support plus family self-guided behavior change or health coaching. Outcomes were 1-year change in BMI z-score, sugar-sweetened beverage intake, and fruit and vegetable intake.
RESULTS: Living closer to a supermarket is associated with greater improvements in fruit and vegetable intake and weight status in an obesity intervention.
Read the full study abstract here.
5-Year Impact Report: Night Market Philadelphia
In 2010, The Food Trust created Night Market Philadelphia to bring communities together and celebrate the joy of food.
Today, Night Market isn’t just a busy night for food truck vendors—it’s an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and build a lasting customer base. It isn’t just one evening of celebrating a neighborhood—it’s a catalyst for sustained community engagement. It isn’t just a popular event—it’s a creator of jobs, tax revenue and real economic growth.
Read the rest of the report here.
The Healthy Food Truck Initiative is a food truck certification program that allows food trucks to prove that they are “healthy” and gain recognition for doing so. ...
“We don’t think every food truck needs to be a salad truck,” Chen said. “But by certain small changes we can encourage them to make through the program, we can provide more healthy options at these really accessible, really convenient places throughout Philadelphia.”
Several collaborations have gotten the initiative this far, including those with Penn’s Student Health Service and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative. WSII is supporting the student group through its Impact Certification program, which offers “funding, guidance and light oversight,” said Stephanie Kim, associate director of community strategy for WSII.
But it’s The Food Trust that’s helping HFTI reach trucks beyond Penn’s campus.
The partnership came about by chance about two years ago, said Diana Minkus, senior associate for The Food Trust’s Night Market food truck program. A colleague found a HFTI flyer on Penn’s campus and passed it on to Minkus, who recognized that the initiative shared a mission with The Food Trust — to improve public access to healthy food.
Read more here.
From Flying Kite
On Thursday August 14, Lancaster Avenue between 35th and 39th streets will host Philadelphia's fifteenth Night Market -- an event that's about a lot more than just tasty food. The area will be blocked off to cars, trolleys will be diverted and an expected 15,000 people will gather to enjoy vittles, drink and music in the waning summer evening.
Many American towns put the "Closed" sign up by 6 p.m. But night markets are drawing people out in Minnesota, Oklahoma and Virginia, with food, art and music from the local community.
The model for the nocturnal markets is the Asian night market, where people eat, shop and socialize and tourists discover delicacies like live scorpions and roasted sea horse until the wee hours of the morning.
Night Market Philadelphia, a roving festival, attracts 25,000 people to diverse city neighborhoods after dark. Vendors offer tastes of the Philadelphia food scene, with salsa dancing and body painting on the side. The market has brought new vitality and revenue to the city, says market director Diana Minkus.
Read more here.
Cooking Light Magazine
“[Headhouse Farmers Market] is a very well-managed market with a great balance of truly committed vendors: meats, sustainable fish, fresh produce, coffee. I can just about fully live off that market and just buy toothpaste somewhere else.” —Chef Aimee Olexy, Talula’s Garden, Philadelphia, PA
Women's Health Magazine
According to the USDA, an estimated total of 13.6 million Americans live in areas that are considered food deserts, and a recent study that examined social media posts about food suggests that a person’s proximity to a healthy food store does impact the healthiness of their meals—the researchers found that only 33 percent of posts from people in food deserts mention fruits and vegetables, compared with 48 percent of posts from people in non-food deserts.
“The challenges for families that lack access to healthy food are vast,” Gabriella Mora, a Senior Associate in Policy and Government Affairs at The Food Trust, tells WomensHealthMag.com. “Imagine a scenario where a single, working mom with young children and no car is having to take two buses and a train and travel an hour each way just to get to the closest grocery store. That’s actually a pretty common scenario, and that inequity creates a lot of barriers to making healthy food choices, since it’s likely much simpler to get to something that’s closer by, but an unhealthy food choice.”
“For a lot of kids,” she adds, “it’s way easier to get a grape soda than a handful of grapes, or an orange soda than an actual orange.”
The Food Trust, which was founded in Philadelphia in 1992, specializes in bringing healthy food access to underserved populations throughout the country. Mora works as a policy advocate for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, which provides financial incentives for businesses to open in healthy food stores in underserved areas, and is a key component of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, which aims to lower childhood obesity rates.
Read more here.
Food drives are big during the winter months: Around the holidays, it has become a tradition to pitch in and help those in need. While these efforts are certainly important and impactful, food insecurity doesn’t go away come January.
More than 900,000 New Jersey residents rely on food banks to feed their families, and it’s estimated that nearly 10 percent of the state’s population lives in areas that lack ready access to stores that sell healthy, affordable foods.
The impact of hunger is exacerbated in low-income communities by the lack of access to stores that provide good-quality, healthy food like fresh produce. Residents living in these areas are forced to buy what’s available, not necessarily what’s healthy, negatively impacting their health and well-being.
Numerous studies show that obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases are disproportionately higher in neighborhoods where residents lack access to nutritious foods. And these areas are also cut off from the economic benefits that accompany anchor supermarkets: steady jobs, increased property values and additional retail investment.
While the need for more supermarkets in New Jersey is clear, New Jersey also has an estimated 5,600 corner stores and bodegas around the state, making small retailers an efficient and cost-effective infrastructure to increase fresh, nutritious food options.
The New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative — a joint partnership of The Food Trust, American Heart Association and the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance — is beginning to make headway, using these existing stores to improve access to healthy food by working with corner-store owners to help them profitably stock, market and sell nutritious, affordable food items to their customers.
Through the initiative, community partners provide retailers the tools they need to dedicate more shelf space to fresh foods and place signs and labels around the store that help their customers recognize healthier choices. The program is helping turn these stores into greater community resources, yielding impressive results in both improving healthy food access and generating new local jobs.
Legislation is pending in Trenton — the Healthy Small Food Retailer Act (A4505/S3043) — that would create a state fund enabling the New Jersey Healthy Corner Store program to be expanded statewide. I encourage the Legislature and governor to act swiftly on this legislation.
All New Jerseyans deserve access to nutritious foods in their communities during the holidays and all throughout the year.
John Weidman is deputy executive director of The Food Trust.