A new study by the Philadelphia Department of Health is one of a small but growing series of studies that point to the first signs of declining rates of obesity among children. Declines were seen citywide. Despite its own economic challenges, Philadelphia was able not only to achieve an overall decline in obesity but also to make the largest improvements among African American male and Hispanic female students.
Notably, the study doesn't credit one program or policy as the hero of this success story. Instead, it suggests that Philadelphia's comprehensive approach to obesity prevention - a combination of increased access to healthy food, nutrition education and exercise - may be responsible for the reversing obesity trend.
June 10, 2013 -- Philadelphia is a "city of neighborhoods," and a city with a diverse, local food scene. To highlight both of these attributes, the city worked with the Philadelphia-based nationally recognized non-profit The Food Trust to create Night Market Philadelphia.
The Night Market is a traveling food event highlighting Philadelphia’s premier ethnic and regional restaurants and food trucks. It’s also a citywide economic development and community engagement initiative that could serve as a model for other cities that want to use mobile vending to bring greater visibility to their local food scene and showcase their neighborhoods as hotbeds of cultural and social activity. Night Market events are generally a mix – about half and half – of food trucks and tent vendors.
May 31, 2013 -- More evidence that Americans are heeding calls to cut back on sugary drinks appears in a report from researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In 2010, U.S. children got an average of 68 fewer calories per day from sugary drinks than in 2000, according to the analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Both children and adults are drinking less sugar at meals and at snack time, the study also found.
May 22, 2013 -- Last week, both houses voted across party lines for a program that stands to make a huge difference in the health of people across the country. The House and Senate Agriculture Committees voted to include the creation of a Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) in their farm bill mark-ups. Their actions--coming after thousands of calls, emails, and letters from constituents demanding access to healthy food--made it clear that Congress is listening. They hear and understand that HFFI makes it possible to provide access to healthy foods in communities that have long gone without.
May 21, 2013 -- A special thanks to every one of the 25,000 of you who came out to Night Market Fairmount Avenue! Here's a look back at the night's festivities, which featured lots of food, drinks, entertainment and even a few circus performances.
Save the Date: We head to West Oak Lane on June 20.
May 9, 2013 -- The Food Trust, along with partners Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the City of New Orleans, and Hope Enterprise Corporation, were on site for the groundbreaking of a new, healthy food hub in New Orleans. The ReFresh Project, which features Whole Foods Market as the redevelopment anchor, is located at Broad and Bienville streets.
The project is developed by Broad Community Connections, a non-profit organization working to revitalize Broad Street from Tulane Avenue to Bayou Road, and L+M Development Partners, a developer of affordable, mixed-income and market-rate housing.
Whole Foods will move into the space previously occupied by Robert's Fresh Market and Schwegmann's grocery, which has been vacant since Hurricane Katrina. Other tenants include Liberty's Kitchen, a non-profit that provides culinary training to at-risk youth and meals to public schools, and Tulane University's Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine, where residents, students and doctors will learn how to use healthy cooking to avoid food-related diseases. Indoor and outdoor community space for gardening, fitness and education classes will also be created.
Funding for the ReFresh Project came through several different outlets. The New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative, managed by The Food Trust and HOPE in partnership with the City, provided $1 million in financing to Broad Community Connections, with as much as $500,000 forgivable. The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority added $900,000 through its Commercial Corridor Revitalization program, with additional money coming from New Market Tax Credits, Goldman Sachs, Chase, the Foundation for Louisiana, Newman's Own Foundation and La Raza. In addition, the Low Income Investment Fund provided loan funds from the national Healthy Food Financing Initiative.
“Access to fresh foods and produce is vital to improving the health of our residents. The FFRI program is improving the quality of life for our residents and will make New Orleans a healthier city,” said City Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo.
Whole Foods plans to open the Broad Street location by December 2013.
May 2, 2013 -- Wendell Pierce, star of HBO’s “Treme” and “The Wire,” joined The Food Trust, farmers, and anti-hunger and food advocates last week to brief members of Congress and their staff on policy proposals to reduce hunger, promote healthy food access and improve local economies through links with regional farmers.
Presenters, collectively known as the Food and Agriculture Policy Collaborative, outlined four policy priorities:
1. Protecting and strengthening SNAP/food stamp benefits and eligibility.
2. Increasing consumer access to fresh, healthy food and creating jobs and vibrant communities through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative.
3. Improving access to healthy fresh food and supporting local farmers and economies through healthy food incentives.
4. Creating economic opportunities for family farmers and expanding access to healthy food through improved infrastructure for local and regional farm and food systems.
From Scientific American
April 9, 2013 -- New evidence is confirming that the environment kids live in has a greater impact than factors such as genetics, insufficient physical activity or other elements in efforts to control child obesity. Three new studies, published in the April 8 Pediatrics, land on the import of the ‘nurture’ side of the equation and focus on specific circumstances in children’s or teen’s lives that potentially contribute to unhealthy bulk.
From the NRDC
April 3, 2013 -- The Natural Resources Defense Council announced the winners of the 2013 Growing Green Awards. These awards celebrate the farmers, business owners, and bold thinkers who are transforming America’s food system. Each one of them has pioneered ways to provide food that nourishes our families and restores our environment at the same time.
The Food Trust's Brianna Almaguer Sandoval won the Young Food Leader Award. She noticed how hard it was to find fresh, healthy food in Philadelphia’s urban communities. Instead of sending people far afield in search of fruits and vegetables, she decided to bring good food to the place people already go: the local corner store. She helped launch The Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative to offer store owners the education, tools and financial support they need to stock fresh produce.
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 BILL MOYERS
Childhood obesity has long been considered one of the nation’s most intractable problems, complicated by issues like race, poverty and a culture that to many seems more concerned with corporate profits than children’s health. About 17 percent of American children are obese; among low-income children, the rate rises to 20 percent. But a recent report shows that the tide may finally be turning, with childhood obesity rates declining by 3 -5 percentage points in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
The reasons for the reversal are still unclear, but it would be hard for anyone familiar with the work of Philadelphia’s Food Trust to discount the impact of that organization and others like it. We called Food Trust Executive Director Yael Lehmann to learn more about the new report and the role of activists in reversing the trend.
Night markets are a staple in many Asian countries — for centuries locals have used them to shop for items, eat cheaply, and entertain themselves in one spot. Today, countries and communities around the world are reinventing the night market, offering everything from traditional Asian street foods to globally-influenced cuisine.
From Good Morning America
ABC News's Chief Health and Medical editor Dr. Richard Besser visits The Food Trust. "I went to Philadelphia where an innovative new program -- low cost. It's changing the way thousands of kids eat," Besser said. "They are switching from junk food to fruits and vegetables and at the same time making it seem very cool."
From Time Magazine
"The [Food Trust's] program has been a remarkable success: one part of it, increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in elementary schools, along with nutrition education, is credited with helping reduce the incidence of overweight students by 50 percent."
First Lady Michelle Obama, July 20, 2011: “It’s about organizations like The Food Trust who have been studying this issue [access to healthy, affordable food], and creating models for how to solve it.”
"The Food Trust is transforming the food landscape one community at a time, by helping families make healthy choices and providing the access to the affordable and nutritious food we all deserve."
January 29, 2013 -- On a chilly November morning, the auditorium at the Philadelphia School District office was sweltering. In what looked like a flash mob dance rehearsal, dozens of city school students wearing blue T-shirts with the slogan “Believe the Hype” bounced and swayed to the song Gangnam Style. Forming a sweaty, smiling Conga line, they weaved around the room as local health educator and rap artist Sterlen Barr shouted, “That’s what it means to be hype!”
Despite the mid-morning dance party, much of this youth summit meant to encourage students to promote healthy changes at their schools was focused on food. Before busting their moves, the students from 40 city schools enjoyed a breakfast of Greek yogurt and listened as administration officials gave shout-outs to school-based food successes, such as a salad sale at a North Philadelphia elementary school. There’s much to celebrate here. Over the past several years, Philadelphia has revamped its school food offerings with striking success.
January 5, 2013 -- It's an extreme makeover, let's call it the "convenient store edition."
"We're trying to make fresh produce more accessible and visible to customers," said Nora Hoeft, a health specialist with the city of Minneapolis.
The initiative is called The Corner Store Project, an effort to make sure healthy foods and snacks are visible, accessible, and affordable at convenient stores across the city.
From the New York Times
December 10, 2012 -- After decades of rising childhood obesity rates, several American cities are reporting their first declines.
The trend has emerged in big cities like New York and Los Angeles, as well as smaller places like Anchorage, Alaska, and Kearney, Neb. The state of Mississippi has also registered a drop, but only among white students.
“It’s been nothing but bad news for 30 years, so the fact that we have any good news is a big story,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, the health commissioner in New York City, which reported a 5.5 percent decline in the number of obese schoolchildren from 2007 to 2011.
The drops are small, just 5 percent here in Philadelphia and 3 percent in Los Angeles. But experts say they are significant because they offer the first indication that the obesity epidemic, one of the nation’s most intractable health problems, may actually be reversing course.