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.
Click here for the full press release.
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.
Click here to read more, via Family Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram.
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
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
Almost a quarter million people are eating healthier, thanks to one innovative idea. (via NationSwell)
The Food Trust of Philadelphia, one of the most ambitious programs of its kind in one of America’s poorest and most unhealthy big cities, began in a public housing development in South Philly, with volunteers piling mounds of fruits and veggies on one long table outside the project each week. Since 1992, they’ve taken their work beyond that first farmer’s market, improving access to healthy food and nutritional information for nearly 220,000 residents in poor neighborhoods — making Philadelphia one of the first cities to meet the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” challenge to eliminate food deserts entirely by 2017.
“We started to see that farmer’s markets provide seasonal access to fresh fruits and vegetables, not a long-term solution — or the only solution. They really only can open in summer on the East Coast. We realized it was really important to look at the longer term and more comprehensive approaches to food access,” says Candace Young, spokesperson for the nonprofit. Around 2004, “the first thing we did was we mapped out areas of the city that had low access to supermarkets and high-diet related deaths — the pockets of the city that needed better access. We sent that report to policy makers and practitioners, the health community and its advocates, the food retail community. What was built from there was this multi-million dollar public-private initiative to build new or even just renovate supermarkets around the whole state.”
Read more here.
Brian Lang, director of The Food Trust's National Campaign for Healthy Food Access, recently had the opportunity to join a roundtable discussion with Mari Gallagher (Mari Gallagher Research & Consulting Group) and Helen Lee (MDRC) on the connection between healthy food access and health for The Wall Street Journal. Says Lang:
"For folks without a lot of time or money, it's easier to find a grape soda than a bunch of grapes. The 2 miles that a higher-income suburbanite might travel to access healthy food isn't the same as the 2 miles that a lower-income resident might travel."
Read more here.
Philly Food Bucks is a healthy food incentive program developed and launched in 2010 to increase the purchasing power of SNAP customers at farmers' markets. For every $5 that SNAP customers spend using their benefits at a participating market site, they receive a $2 coupon for fresh fruits and vegetables. The program is available to all SNAP recipients, and in 2014, Philly Food Bucks coupons could be redeemed at 29 sites that sell local fruits and vegetables across Philadelphia. Through the program, The Food Trust seeks to increase SNAP sales at farmers' markets, increase the affordability of produce to encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and bolster the sales of local farmers.
Read more here.