Commitment to a Healthier Future

Feeding America, Manager, Community Health and Nutrition

by Jessica E. Hager, AM Manager, Community Health and Nutrition, External Engagement, Feeding America

Last month, Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) hosted their sixth annual Building a Healthier Future Summit in Washington, D.C. and Feeding America® was present to announce our commitment to help increase access to healthy food options for the 46 million people served by the network of 200 member food banks across the country. Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, has increasingly focused on distributing healthy foods while conducting research and implementing strategies aimed to make the healthy choice the easy choice for communities across the country. Last fiscal year, more than four billion pounds of food, one third of which was fresh produce, was distributed through the Feeding America network of food banks. With our progress to date and organizational goals in mind, the summit was an opportune moment to announce our work with PHA to build healthier futures for families and children in need.

PHA was founded in 2010 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit that brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. As part of our commitment to PHA, we will work to increase distribution of fruits and vegetables to nearly half of the total pounds of food distributed. In addition, Feeding America will expand its work with behavioral economists at Cornell University focused on “nudging” stakeholders in the food bank supply chain to select healthy choices for distribution in food pantries and consumption within homes.

Feeding America’s multi-pronged commitment will involve close collaboration with food banks and food pantries across the country, including, but not limited to, those that made their own commitments at PHA in May. The organizations making their own PHA commitments to make the healthy choice the easy choice include Atlanta Community Food Bank, Capital Area Food Bank, San Antonio Food Bank and Des Moines Area Religious Council.

To add further context to the commitments, as well as challenges and opportunities present for food banks when it comes to health and nutrition efforts, PHA featured the plenary session, Driving Health Through Access. Eric Cooper, President and CEO of San Antonio Food Bank moderated the session and was joined by panelists Nancy Roman, President and CEO of Capital Area Food Bank, Ashley Koff, Registered Dietitian and Marissa Nelson, Senior Vice President, Ahold USA. During this time, these hunger-relief and nutrition experts spoke to the link between food and health, especially within low-income communities where access to healthy foods and health-promoting environments are often disproportionately lacking compared to higher income communities.

Credit: Partnership for a Healthier America

To learn more about the current nutrition and health work of Feeding America and the network food banks across the country, subscribe to Hunger and Health’s Quarterly Digest, explore or contact us.