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Press Release

Partnership for a Healthier America and The Foundation for Fresh Produce Join Forces to Host First-Ever Produce for All Leadership Summit

June 10, 2024

Event united a cross-sector group of leaders committed to the bold goal of doubling produce consumption in communities across the US

Washington, DC — On Monday, June 10, 2024, Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and the International Fresh Produce Association’s Foundation for Fresh Produce co-hosted the first-ever Produce for All Leadership Summit at the Grand Hyatt in Washington DC. This invite-only event gathered 130 leaders from across the business, public, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors to share knowledge and create an actionable plan to double produce consumption in communities around the United States. Key companies and organizations represented included the American Heart Association, DC Central Kitchen, Feeding America, FMI, the Food Industry Association, Milken Institute School of Public Health, the Rockefeller Foundation, USDA, and the Walmart Foundation.

Good food is a key driver of good health, yet research shows that only 1 in 10 American adults are eating the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables. This lack of access to nutritious food is contributing to higher rates of chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease. In fact, more than 600,000 people die of heart disease in this country every year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.

“There are many causes of food and nutrition insecurity, but one thing that’s clear is that it’s not because of a lack of nutritious food – it’s about ensuring that everyone, in every zip code in America has the same access to that nutritious food,” said Noreen Springstead, President and CEO of PHA. “I’m inspired by the commitment and collaboration I saw today around addressing those barriers to access that too many communities face. Together, we are demonstrating the power of produce and what it can do to lift up communities and improve the health of Americans across the country.”

The event kicked off with an inspirational keynote from farmer and food justice activist Karen Washington, best known for coining the term “food apartheid” and whose life work has been enriching communities through growing fresh produce. Following Karen’s keynote, attendees heard from Cindy Long, Administrator at the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, about the key role that Federal nutrition programs play in increasing access to healthy food, particularly in underserved communities.

Attendees then listened to a panel moderated by Dr. Caree Cotwright, Director of Nutrition Security and Health Equity at the USDA, and a group of cross-sector panelists focused on the work already underway by PHA and The Foundation for Fresh Produce to double produce consumption in 15 cities by 2030.

“One of my heroes, Margaret Mead, once remarked about how a small, thoughtful group of individuals can change the world. The Produce for All Leadership Summit united leaders from across many disciplines and industries to focus on the singular goal of doubling consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in communities throughout the nation,” said Cathy Burns, CEO of the International Fresh Produce Association. “I am confident the strategic and creative approaches discussed will take root in new programs and interventions that will ultimately improve health outcomes and reduce the incidences of diet-related disease in the years ahead. Thank you to all who participated and will embark on this mission with us.”

The bulk of the afternoon was devoted to small group discussions both within and across sectors, to create an action plan for doubling produce consumption and increasing food and health equity. The action plan’s framework asked attendees to think through areas of opportunity and categories of contribution in the 3As: Access – increasing access to produce, Appeal – boosting the appeal of fruits and vegetables, and Alliances – forging strategic alliances that lead to the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.

The day concluded with a lively reception which brought to life the bounty of the Mississippi Delta, where both PHA and The Foundation for Fresh Produce are working on stakeholder-led food systems transformation. Attendees savored dishes featuring fresh Delta produce by renowned chef Derrick Wilson while listening to Blues musician Keith Johnson and hearing from special guests leading the transformative work in this region.

As two organizations dedicated to public health, PHA and The Foundation for Fresh Produce believe that improving access to and consumption of fruits and vegetables is key to changing the trajectory of our current food system and to creating thriving, healthy communities. The hope is that this is just the beginning of continued, iterative work to center health in our food system and to use the power of food to lift up communities.

PHA and The Foundation for Fresh Produce are proud to have support from this year’s inaugural sponsors: Instacart, The Mushroom Council, Amazon Access, Bayer, NHL Foundation, American Frozen Food Institute, Arctic Apples, Novo Nordisk, Principal Foundation, Stemilt and Taylor Farms.

Photos available here.

For more information on this year’s event visit the event website.

Contacts:

PHA: Diana Delgado, ddelgado@ahealthieramerica.org

The Foundation for Fresh Produce: Katie Calligaro, kcalligaro@freshproduce.com

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About Partnership for a Healthier America

Partnership for a Healthier America is the premier national nonprofit organization working to create lasting, systemic changes that transform the food landscape in pursuit of health equity. PHA develops evidence-based approaches that are implemented in partnership with the private sector, nonprofits, and government, leveraging PHA’s assets and the partner’s knowledge to accelerate the pace of transformation. Learn more at www.ahealthieramerica.org.

About The Foundation for Fresh Produce

The Foundation for Fresh Produce’s vision is to grow a healthier world by changing the trajectory of human health. We believe increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables has the potential to provide solutions for many of the world’s greatest health and economic challenges – especially those surrounding nutrition and hunger. The Foundation focuses on improving the appeal of fruits and vegetables as an integral part of people’s diets, supporting the development of infrastructure and supply chain solutions that remove barriers and provide easier access, nurturing fruit and vegetable professionals and scaling partnerships that strengthen our global impact. Visit www.freshproduce.com/foundation for more.

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