A Brighter Future, Together

by Paula Reichel Chief of Staff, Partnership for a Healthier America

In the face of recent public health interventions, the latest data on obesity prevalence is disheartening, but also grounding. Obesity and its associated chronic diseases are an epidemic and epidemics are not easy to unwind, especially for low-income and minority populations that face greater challenges in accessing healthier foods and being physically active.

Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) was founded in 2010 in response to the obesity crisis so that the children of this generation are not the first to lead shorter lives than their parents. PHA’s approach is systemic and sustainable. Leveraging the power of the private sector, PHA increases the supply of nutritious food and encourages physical activity for all people in America, with a focus on children and families most impacted by obesity. Our goal is that all children live healthier lives, growing up to be adults free from obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions.

Recognizing the key role that food banks play in the food supply of families in America living in poverty, in 2016 PHA launched its first cohort of food assistance partners – Feeding America, three member food banks, and one food pantry. And earlier this year, PHA developed its first food assistance partnership framework, a set of business practice changes informed by existing partners and subject area experts that create the foundation for how food banks can address the health needs of their participants.

PHA’s next cohort of food assistance partners will be recognized at its Innovating a Healthier Future Summit, taking place from May 2-4 in Washington, D.C. The Summit will bring together leaders from the private sector, nonprofits, and government to highlight programs and practices that are successfully combating obesity and reducing health disparities. Successes will be presented side-by-side with innovations that have the potential to transform the marketplace, change individual behavior and reshape the world around us.

If nothing else, the latest data shows that obesity, chronic disease, and health disparities are persistent problems requiring coordinated, multi-sectoral action. PHA believes that food banks understand and will embrace their role in this effort so all children can reach their full potential.

Food banks interested in partnering with PHA should email preichel@ahealthieramerica.org.

Paula Reichel currently serves as Chief of Staff at Partnership for a Healthier America, a nationwide nonprofit that leverages the power of partnerships to improve the food supply and increase physical activity so that all children grow up to be adults free from obesity and chronic disease. Prior to joining PHA, Paula worked to improve the health of vulnerable populations with the Capital Area Food Bank and DC Public Schools.