Letter From the President and CEO 2019
In some ways 2019, before COVID-19 and our world turned on its head, seems so long ago. Things were very different then.
As Partnership for a Healthier America approached its 10th year, we wanted to shift our strategic plan to the area where we had the most impact and opportunity – and very clearly that was in shifting our food supply. Over the years, PHA has removed trillions of calories and literal tons of salt, saturated fat, and added sugar from the food supply. Perhaps more importantly, we amassed a great body of knowledge and data around who our food supply is failing: most notably economically-disadvantaged communities and communities of color – those most disadvantaged as a byproduct of decades of systemic oppression.
Under our mission to leverage the private sector to transform the food landscape, we:
Worked to accelerate plant-based foods with an eye toward not just health, but also planetary resources like land and water. We partnered with EAT, which delivered the blockbuster EAT-Lancet Report on the convergence of climate and health, concluding that shifting to more plant-based diets provides planetary and personal health benefits.
Expanded industry-wide partnerships. Through a new partnership with NAMA – the association representing the $25 billion US convenience services industry – we’re working to improve the nutritional quality of food available in 5 million vending machines across the country. The approach builds on PHA’s successful industry-wide partnerships with NACS in the convenience store space and the National Confectioners Association in making treats just that: treats.
Laid the foundation for a new initiative, Shaping Early Palates, to improve the food supply for our youngest eaters. The gap between recommendations for early childhood nutrition and what children actually eat is astounding. For example, nearly 85% of infants and toddlers consume foods with added sugar on any given day. At long last, it was announced that the next iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans will issue food guidelines for infants and toddlers. PHA convened leaders from baby food companies, public health organizations, the National WIC Association, and the media to discuss challenges to good food for young eaters.
Throughout our history as an organization, we have listened to our partners. We have learned. And with every step, it has become clearer that the challenges to our nation’s food system are amplified in economically-disadvantaged communities, where it is harder to access produce and harder still to avoid ultra-processed foods.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the gross inequity in the food system, as well as the fragility of the supply chain. Our renewed focus in 2019 laid the groundwork for PHA to confront the challenges of 2020 head-on.
We look forward to doing that in partnership with you, and thank you so very much for your steadfast support.
Nancy E. Roman
President & CEO
Partnership for a Healthier America