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.
...when millions of Americas rely on convenience stores as their primary grocery, offering more nutritious options becomes a public health imperative.
Several programs around the country are trying to do just that -- putting up the cash so convenience store owners can remodel, showcasing healthy food up front and relegating the sodas and Ding Dongs to the back.
"Right when you come in the door we've got veggies, fruits, whole grain cereals," said Clara Olivares, owner of Olivares Food Market near downtown Philadelphia. "We wanted to offer more choices to our customers, and for the community to get healthier."
Refurbishing stores: In 2012, Olivares signed up for a program run by The Food Trust, a regional advocacy group that gets funding from a variety of public and private sources. The Food Trust provided money and expertise, sprucing up her store with a new refrigerated display case, awning, vegetable kiosk, as well as signs throughout directing customers to the healthy eats.
The Trust provides training on how to handle fresh produce -- such as not storing the bananas next to the apples, as apples give off ethylene, which rots the bananas. There's tricks on how to sell produce, like never letting just a few pieces of fruit linger at the bottom of a big box, as well as training with ordering and book keeping.
Since partnering with Philadelphia's health department in 2010, the Trust has done varying degrees of renovations on over 200 stores. A full-on conversion like Olivares' cost about $60,000.
The Layman Award was established by the Philadelphia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance to honor an individual or group who has provided significant contributions to the fields of Health Education and Physical Education who are not members of the profession.
Learn more about The Food Trust's HYPE program here
Young Leaders for a Healthier Generation
GSK and The Philadelphia Foundation announced the award of a three-year, $5 million charitable grant to Get HYPE Philly!, a collective of 10 nonprofits headed by The Food Trust. Working together, the nonprofits will focus on enabling Philadelphia teens to eat healthy, exercise and build healthier communities. The grant is from a fund established by GSK in 2011 to benefit young people in the City of Philadelphia, and is administered by The Philadelphia Foundation.
For more information visit: gethypephilly.org
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.
Inside Track continues a series of interviews with members of the Strategic Advisory Committee of Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association, exploring their various contributions to the fight against childhood obesity.
PreventObesity.net Leader Dwayne Wharton was born and raised in Philadelphia and grew up in a community that was, as he recalls, “uneven.”
Read more here.
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.
Dwayne Wharton, Director of External Affairs at The Food Trust, also serves as the President of Seybert Foundation, a 100-year-old philanthropic foundation that makes grants in the amount of $300,000 per year to benefit disadvantaged youth in Philadelphia. As President, he has led a tremendous effort in recruitment of board members from ethnic and racial minority backgrounds.
One nominee said, “Dwayne Wharton is a shining example of a man who grew up in Philadelphia and who now gives back to the community. He is open-minded and visionary, taking people for "who they are" and not stereotyping them, and he has a great talent for detecting leadership ability in others, especially in people of color or from minority populations, and works to promote those leaders in ways that ultimately benefit not just the individuals but their community.”
Finally, a little good news concerning the nation’s rising obesity rates: rates among children in some cities and states are starting to drop.
What’s behind the success? Jim Marks, senior vice president and director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Group says there is a pattern among the cities with the most significant declines. Most are implementing multiple, comprehensive programs that target both schools and communities by upping the availability of healthier foods and encouraging more physical activity and educational opportunities.
That includes tapping into as many different venues where people eat and buy food as possible. For instance, since 1992 Philadelphia has worked with The Food Trust to help corner stores fill their shelves with fresher foods, bring better food to under-served markets, connect schools and farms and require acceptance of food stamps at farmer’s markets.
Corner stores — often thought of as a source of unhealthy foods — can be key partners in the effort to improve access to healthy, affordable foods. Evaluation by The Food Trust and Econsult Corporation has shown that the corner stores in Philadelphia that have introduced healthier produce to store shelves have resulted in healthier choices, healthier businesses and healthier communities.
Blog post from Rhea May, Fairmount Ventures
The Food Trust has worked tirelessly over the past twenty years to ensure access to healthy and affordable food for everyone. In Philadelphia, where food deserts are depressingly common and even part of our city was named the second hungriest district in the nation in 2010, assuring access to this basic human necessity can be grim work indeed. But rather than merely being a mouthpiece to these depressing statistics or shaming the public into taking action against this atrocity, The Food Trust takes a different approach to engaging the public. As anyone who’s been to Night Market can attest, they make food a celebration – and they make sure that everyone’s in on the party.
With high hopes of more to come, Mayor Annise Parker, Council Members Stephen Costello and Dwight Boykins, the Houston Redevelopment Authority (HRA) and others broke ground on the first project to target a Houston food desert. With financial assistance from the city, Pyburn’s owner John Vuong is building a first-class grocery store to serve South Union and surrounding neighborhoods. The store is scheduled to open the first quarter of 2015.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to purchase healthy food for their family,” said Yael Lehmann, Executive Director of The Food Trust. “We applaud this initiative by the City of Houston to increase access to grocery stores in underserved areas,” Lehmann said.
The City is providing a performance-based loan of $1.7 million for predevelopment, land acquisition, construction and equipment. The total project cost is estimated to be $3.7 million. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds awarded to the Houston Redevelopment Authority for economic development projects will be used for the project. Funding is available for additional projects and HRA will work with potential partners on a case-by-case basis to determine eligibility for building or revitalizing grocery stores in food desert areas.
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that following his effort, Philadelphia’s Food Trust has been awarded a $150,000 grant that will allow the successful Night Markets food truck events to continue. The Night Markets have brought food trucks to neighborhoods across Philadelphia- showcasing the city’s entrepreneurs and stimulating economic activity in local communities. With the food truck industry growing in the city, the Night Markets have had an $11 million impact on the city’s economy.
From the Philadelphia Business Journal:
"It looks like more Night Markets are on the horizon in the city as the Department of Commerce announced that a series of grants were awarded in support of the Food Trust Night Markets as well as the commercial corridor enhancement in Philadelphia."
First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Philadelphia to discuss federal funding for a Healthy Food Financing Initiative which will increase the availability of affordable, healthy foods in underserved urban and rural communities, particularly through the development of grocery stores and other healthy food retailers.
"...And I have to finally thank a few others: the Food Trust. (Applause.) The Reinvestment Fund. (Applause.) And the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition. (Applause.) You all have done extraordinary and some could say revolutionary work here in this city. And as you all have said consistently, you couldn't do it without each other. That has been the resonating message. So you all should be very proud to be highlighted here today for the work that you've done. It's really groundbreaking, and hopefully will set the tone for what we can do throughout the country."