Good Food for All: Reflecting on a Year of Impact

By Noreen Springstead, President and CEO of Partnership for a Healthier America

As we enter the holiday season and 2023 comes to a close, it’s a time to reflect on the impact PHA has made over the last year. While it’s been a difficult year for many families — thanks to record-high inflation and rising food costs — I’m proud of the work PHA has done to help those most affected. Good food for all is not only our mission, it’s a fundamental human right.

This season is also a time to practice gratitude. I’m so very thankful for the continued support from our network - everyone from individual supporters, to our corporate partners, to leaders in the public health space. We all have a role to play in the good food movement, and together we are fighting for a food system that supports a better future for us all.

I hope you’ll take a moment to read more about our collective impact this past year. And you can visit our Food Equity Action Center for a full list of ways to get involved in the good food movement.

Mapping Food Equity

The first step in improving access to good food is identifying the communities where our work is needed most. Our Food Equity Opportunity Map, which we launched in February, provides a visual tool for targeting our focus to areas where good food could have the biggest impact on community health.

Using census, income and health data, the map helps inform actions that individuals, businesses and policymakers can take to improve food quality and accessibility in their communities. Examples of potential actions include a retailer marketing healthier products in zip codes where there is less food equity or a local government official targeting their efforts to improve food access more directly to the communities that need it.

This is just the first step, though, and we are planning to add new data to the map and to make the dataset accessible to anyone publicly in the coming months. This will give us deeper insights and allow others to build on the map.

Adding Over 34M Servings of Healthy Food

It’s been a little over a year since the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, in which the administration committed to a national strategy to not only end hunger but also to improve nutrition for Americans. As part of that conference, PHA committed to adding 100 million servings of fruits, vegetables and beans to the marketplace by 2025.

Since the White House Conference, PHA has provided more than 34 million servings of fruits, vegetables and beans, meaning we’re well on our way to hitting the halfway mark, just a year into that commitment.

We could not do this without the support and commitment from our partners:

Good Food Cities

A key driver of the progress toward our 100 million servings goal is PHA’s work with cities. We’ve partnered with the International Fresh Produce Association to double consumption of produce in 15 cities by 2030, starting with commitments from Denver and Indianapolis.

A recent pilot in Indianapolis tested an innovative model that gives families produce credits to use on Instacart combined with free delivery, and we found that a majority of participants preferred the produce credits over traditional produce boxes, and planned to continue eating more fruits and vegetables.

Building on the success of the Indianapolis pilot, PHA is expanding the produce credit model to four additional Good Food Cities this winter: Washington, D.C; Denver, Colorado; Englewood, New Jersey and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We’ve also received funding from Novo Nordisk to build a collective impact model focused on driving the goals of our Good Food Cities work.

Good Stuff Kiosks

We’re working with Dole Packaged Foods through its Sunshine for All Cities program to pilot small, moveable refrigerated kiosks that sit alongside shelf stable staple foods and a video screen that shares recipes and cooking tips. The kiosk provides accessible and affordable meals to families while they’re coming to pick up their kids from afterschool programs hosted by the Boys & Girls Clubs. You can learn more about the program here.

This summer, we launched six Good Stuff Kiosks in Jackson, MS and Merced County, CA alongside nutrition and cooking skills classes and PHA is working to evaluate the pilot so that we can scale it to many more of the 5,000+ Boys & Girls Clubs across the country.

Raising a Generation of Veggie Lovers

VEO icon Through Veggies Early & Often, PHA is working with early childhood education providers, medical professionals and baby and toddler food makers to get more real veggies into the foods young children eat and giving families the tools and information they need to build lasting healthy eating habits.

Since March, PHA has added 138 new meals, recipes, and products to the PHA portfolio, meaning they meet our rigorous, veggie-forward criteria. Our Veggies Early and Often Icon is a visual representation of this – parents and caregivers can look for the icon to ensure they’re buying products that meet the daily criteria for vegetable intake.

Rootswell: A New Seed is Planted

Earlier this month, we officially launched Rootswell, PHA’s campaign to help locally-grown produce find its way into local kitchens, onto families’ tables, and demonstrate a healthier way of living fully and joyfully in the Mississippi Delta.

30% of Mississippi Delta residents live below the poverty line, and the state has some of the highest rates of food insecurity, obesity, and poverty in the nation. At the same time, there’s a burgeoning collective of farmers, grocery store owners, community leaders, artists and entrepreneurs working to change their local food system.

In fact, we recently partnered with one such changemaker – Mileston Cooperative Association – to distribute boxes of fresh produce to underserved families in the Delta over the summer. In total, 350 families accessed over 255,000 servings of local, Delta-grown produce over the 12 weeks of the program. 97% of the participants said that the program helped them stretch their food budget and 88% said there are more vegetables they enjoy eating as a result.

Under this new brand, we’ll be able to shine a light on the work already being done, as well as source funding and other resources for small farms and businesses to continue to improve access to good food.

If you’d like to support this important work, visit our Food Equity Action Center for ways to help advance the good food movement.