"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.
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
The New York Times
Taped on the glass refrigerator doors were signs warning customers about the calories contained in the products inside. “Did you know it takes 65 minutes of dancing to work off a bottle of soda?” one said. The signs are part of the healthy corner store initiative sponsored by the Food Trust, a local nonprofit that works to promote nutritious food and coordinates closely with the city. (“Choose water!” urged another, handwritten sign.)
Many urban residents do their shopping in corner stores, and the Food Trust certifies stores, helping them find and sell healthier foods.
“We don’t do much with campaigns to decrease soda,” said John Weidman, the organization’s deputy executive director. “These guys have such small profit margins that you have to couch everything in terms of, ‘This will help your bottom line.’ ” In other words, the organization doesn’t urge stores to stop selling soda. Instead, he said, the goal is to nudge customers toward healthier options, like water and low-fat milk. “It’s mostly about getting them to try healthier alternatives,” he said.
Celebrating Progress, Accelerating Change
Helping all children grow up at a healthy weight is an integral part of building a Culture of Health in every community across the United States. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will commit $500 million over the next 10 years to expand efforts to ensure that all children in the United States—no matter who they are or where they live―can grow up at a healthy weight. Together we have been able to put childhood obesity on the map as an urgent, national priority. Now there are signs we’re turning the tides on childhood obesity rates in younger children. These signs of progress are happening in schools and communities across the nation.
Video features President Bill Clinton, former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, former Let's Move Executive Director Sam Kass, Executive Director of The Food Trust Yael Lehmann, and others.
Newsworks The Pulse
On a Saturday this summer, staff from The Food Trust and cookbook author Leanne Brown led a tour of the market in Philadelphia's Clark Park.
The duo acted as tag-team pitchmen hawking the wonders of grilled asparagus and the benefits of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Brown's cookbook "Good and Cheap" is for people who live on a food stamp budget and The Food Trust is on a mission to get nutritious food to more city people.
Listen to the segment here.
"...if you find yourself visiting Philly during the more tender months of the year, Headhouse is one of the best places for eaters, bar none. Exceptional locally-grown fruits and vegetables, pastured meats, sustainable seafood, excellent cheese, chocolate, there is so much inspiration to be found in the stalls of this historic marketplace. Stop for a cup of Bodhi coffee or a cup from Philly Fair Trade Roasters, pick up a Market Day Canele, and stroll the stalls."
Headhouse Farmers' Market re-opens May 4, 2014.
Today, Philadelphia has one of the nation’s largest citywide networks of farmers’ markets in low-income communities. But this thriving program, operated for the last 20 years by The Food Trust, had a bumpy road to success. Early on, several of our markets failed due to lack of shoppers or farmers–or both.
From USDA Blog
August 17, 2012 -- Joani Walsh, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs commends The Food Trust's farmers' market program.
"Pennsylvania is among the country's top ten states represented in the USDA's National Farmers Market Directory. I recently completed a trip through the Fruit Belt to the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia to see how USDA's support of farmers market development is impacting communities and helping farmers across the Keystone State.
"Clark Park and The Food Trust, which operates 26 markets in Philadelphia, both play a critical role in the city's initiative to expand access to healthy food while also expanding economic opportunities for area farmers."
August 13, 2012 -- The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on USDA deputy undersecretary Joani Walsh's visit to The Food Trust's Clark Park farmers' market.
""We've been paying a lot of attention to Philadelphia for quite some time. It's really exciting," Walsh said. "Philly's just really been out in front with some groundbreaking work."
Philadelphians have increased access to farmers' markets in the last few years, Walsh said, and that has led the way for the rest of the country."