Bringing Access to Healthy Food to Philadelphia

From by Clare Algozin
Bringing Access to Healthy Food to Philadelphia

For more than 20 years, The Food Trust has been working to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. The Food Trust's comprehensive approach to healthy food access includes improving food environments, teaching nutrition education in schools, working with corner store owners to increase healthy offerings, helping customers make healthier choices, managing farmers' markets in communities that lack access to affordable produce and encouraging grocery store development in underserved communities.

Food Tank had the opportunity to speak with Yael Lehmann, Executive Director at The Food Trust.

Food Tank (FT): How do you contribute to creating a better food system?

Yael Lehmann (YL): Our work is based in Philadelphia, but the model can apply in any community. Twenty years ago, our organization began with one farm stand in a neighborhood where it was hard to find fresh produce. There were neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia where residents couldn't easily buy healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. 

Last year, an estimated 400,000 people visited our network of farmers' markets. Over the last three years, food stamp sales have risen by more than 300 percent at our markets in the lowest income areas. By focusing on comprehensive local initiatives, we've begun moving in the right direction in Philly, and in other cities and neighborhoods throughout the country. In elementary schools and rec centers, corner stores and supermarkets, centers of commerce and centers of government, The Food Trust seeks one simple thing: to ensure that everyone — regardless of socioeconomic status — has access to affordable, nutritious food and the information to make healthy decisions.

FT: How can individuals become more involved in your organization?

YL: With the right support systems in place, everyone can find and afford healthy food right in their communities. Getting involved in the food access movement is easy: You can support the local economy by buying produce at the farmers' market. You can encourage small-store owners to stock healthy foods (and purchase them yourself). You can work with local organizations like The Food Trust to host food tastings, cooking demos and nutrition lessons at your children's schools. You can volunteer at a local food bank or make a donation to a food-access organization.

On a broader level, you can follow healthy food financing legislation in your own state, and vote to support efforts that bring healthy food to underserved communities.

Download the 2014 Good Food Org Guide HERE.

Submit your suggestions for the 2015 guide HERE.

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