Partnership for a Healthier America Launches COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund to Help Transform the Food Landscape in Pursuit of Health Equity

Date: April 28, 2020


Andrew Brenner:

PHA launches COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund to distribute produce to communities in need through a partnership with the Produce Marketing Association and with support from Novo Nordisk.

PHA also announces a new initiative, Shaping Early Palates, to raise awareness for healthy palates and nutritious food for our nation’s youngest eaters.

WASHINGTON, DC – Marking a decade of impact tackling obesity and transforming the nation’s food landscape in pursuit of health equity, the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) launched two new efforts today as part of its virtual summit, PHA10: Accelerating a Healthier Future:

  • The COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund, which will bring hundreds of thousands of servings of fresh produce to communities in need during the coronavirus pandemic, in partnership with the Produce Marketing Association and with support from Novo Nordisk.
  • A new initiative, Shaping Early Palates, to increase awareness of the importance of early palate development and to create a desire for nutrient-rich foods, especially vegetables, for children aged 0 to 5.

The COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund will use fruits and vegetables to uplift health for individuals in need during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, while also creating economic opportunity and reducing food waste. With initial funding from Novo Nordisk the COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund will deliver fresh produce to communities in need, paired with digital and other resources to help families integrate fruits and vegetables into their diets and lives for the long-term.

Donations from the general public for the COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund can be made at:

PHA will partner with the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) with the goal of delivering hundreds of thousands of servings of high-quality, fresh produce that would have otherwise been wasted to individuals in need. This effort would complement the USDA’s recent investment in surplus perishable foods and is designed to increase the likelihood that individuals will adopt healthy eating patterns.

“Since its founding alongside Former First Lady Michelle Obama, the Partnership for a Healthier America has taken bold steps to bend the arc of our nation’s trends on obesity and diet-related diseases. The backdrop of COVID-19 highlights the importance of eradicating the risks associated with diet-related disease more than ever,” said Nancy E. Roman, President and CEO, PHA. “This moment also underscores the need for partnership. Without our partners, PHA would not have seen the success we did throughout our first decade. Together, we removed at least 7 trillion calories from the food supply, laid the groundwork for water to become the most purchased beverage in the country, and enhanced the access of healthier food for 11 million low-income Americans through our partnerships with food banks around the country.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified how food inequality leads to increased burden on communities that are already vulnerable to chronic disease, said Doug Langa, Executive Vice President, North America Operations and President of Novo Nordisk Inc. “Doing what we can to support and encourage healthy eating is more critical now than ever, and why we’re proud to continue our long-standing partnership with PHA and support PHA’s COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund.”

“At a time when many Americans are experiencing hunger due to economic uncertainties and access issues caused by the COVID-19 crisis, PMA and its members believe it is unconscionable to allow fresh fruits and vegetables to go to waste,” said Cathy Burns, CEO of PMA. “Filling people’s bodies with nourishing food and strengthening their immune systems is always important, especially now. The COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund represents a huge opportunity for public and private collaboration to address the critical issues of access, food waste, and food insecurity as we improve the health and wellness of the communities we serve.”

PHA also announced the launch of Shaping Early Palates, an effort to raise the visibility of early palate development through industry agreements that advance the availability and accessibility of veggie-forward baby and toddler foods in the marketplace. Babies are born with an innate affinity for sweetness and a distaste for bitterness. Without early and frequent exposure to vegetables, this disposition often leads to vegetables being rejected for sweet foods when babies become toddlers. Many current baby food offerings mix fruits and vegetables together, leading parents to believe that children need sweetness to make vegetables palatable.

Through Shaping Early Palates, PHA will work with private sector partners and others, starting with six partnerships with key baby and children’s food manufacturers. In 2019, PHA announced its first baby food partnership with Sprout Organic Foods. Sprout has met its PHA commitment to have at least 50% of its product portfolio be veggie-leading and will continue to maintain this percentage with continued expansion.

Today, PHA has welcomed the following organizations, along with Sprout, as founding members of the Shaping Early Palates initiative:

  • Nurture Life has committed to PHA to increase the number of veggie-first options – including increasing the number of servings of vegetables offered – limiting added sodium and sugar, reducing saturated fat, and educating parents on early palate formation.
  • Good Feeding has committed to PHA to launch an online knowledge center and educational platform – – to educate and empower parents, caregivers, and pediatricians on early palate development and flavor training. This platform seeks to increase the acceptability and preference for vegetables among all children in an effort to combat childhood obesity.
  • Fresh Bellies, lil’gourmets, and Tiny Organics have all signed on as PHA Sustaining Partners, pledging support and financial resources to the Shaping Early Palates effort. These partner organizations meet PHA’s nutritional criteria and are currently using their platforms to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of early palate development.

“PHA and Good Feeding are natural partners in the effort to start babies on the journey to a healthy life by offering realistic and convenient feeding solutions to parents, caregivers and pediatricians,” said Phil McGrath, CEO, Good Feeding.

“We launched Nurture Life to give parents a new way to feed their families and tackle one of our country’s biggest challenges - the way our children eat,” said Jennifer Chow, Co-Founder of Nurture Life. “We have partnered with PHA as they share our values and mission to raise the standard for children’s food and make real, nutritious food become the norm and not the exception. We are very excited to be a launch partner for the Shaping Early Palates initiative to help educate parents on the importance of shaping the tastes of children at an early age and help set them up for a lifetime of making healthy food choices.

“We are thrilled to announce our collaboration with Partnership for a Healthier America as it solidifies Tiny Organics’ commitment to ensuring that every child across the U.S. has access to the healthiest foods,” said Tiny Organics Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Betsy Fore. “At Tiny Organics, we are on a mission to transform the palates of a generation to prefer vegetables from the earliest days and we are honored to contribute to PHA’s ‘Shaping Early Palates initiative.”

“lil’gourmets was born because, as a mom, I experienced the very issue that PHA is trying to tackle – the lack of vegetables and resulting high sugar in most baby and kids’ foods.” said Shibani Baluja, Founder of lil’gourmets. “Given my background in food, I knew the industry could and should do better, so we launched lil’gourmets with our ‘veggie-first promise’ where we commit that 100% of our products will have vegetables or beans as their first and primary ingredients. Paired with chef-crafted spice blends and other nutrient-rich ingredients, our refrigerated, globally-inspired veggie meals are everything that we as moms are looking for and a convenient, ready-to-eat product that our children crave and eat daily!”

PHA also recognized today the following organizations for their generous support and sponsorship of PHA10: Accelerating a Healthier Future Virtual Summit:

  • Premier Sponsor: Novo Nordisk
  • Silver Sponsors: Beyond Meat, Kids Obstacle Challenge, McLane, MINDBODY, and NAMA
  • Bronze Sponsors: Califia Farms, Harold Levinson Associates, Herbalife Nutrition, Lumina Foundation, OWL: Online Wireless Leaders, Principal, Sprout Organic Foods, Tiny Organics, and True Made Foods

About Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA)

PHA’s mission is to leverage the power of the private sector to transform the food landscape in pursuit of health equity. In 2010, PHA was created in conjunction with Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! effort. PHA identifies, accelerates, and celebrates voluntary business practices that improve or increase choice or lead to new norms and behavior around food and physical activity. For more information about PHA, please visit and follow PHA on Twitter @PHAnews.