Childhood Obesity Awareness Month: An Opportunity for Donors to Support Children’s Health

September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Throughout September, the Center will draw from our report, Donor Strategies to Prevent Childhood Obesity: Lessons from Greater Philadelphia, to highlight high impact opportunities for donors interested in helping prevent childhood obesity.

Fruits_and_veggiesIncrease Access to Healthy Foods

What a child eats plays a large role in determining their health and susceptibility to obesity.  Children from low-income families often lack access to the fresh foods and produce that are critical to maintaining a healthy diet.  In fact, nearly 30 million people in the U.S. live in “food deserts,” economically depressed areas with limited access to supermarkets or other sources of fresh foods.  At meal or snack time, children in these neighborhoods frequent fast food restaurants or corner stores, which offer mostly unhealthy processed or packaged food items.

To help improve the diets of children living in these ‘food deserts,’ donors can support programs that increase the availability of fresh, healthy foods.

The Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative (HCSI) does just that in Philadelphia and Camden, two cities where food deserts are common.  HCSI encourages corner storeowners to sell healthy food options by connecting them to suppliers and by providing the training in marketing and other technical assistance needed to maximize profit from healthy goods.  HCSI also supplies each corner store with engaging signage that helps inform shoppers on the nutritional value of the foods they buy.

Since 2004, The Food Trust has enrolled 660 corner stores and has provided Philadelphia families shopping at these enrolled corner stores with approximately 27,000 additional healthy products. It costs roughly $1,000 per corner store to participate in the initiative and roughly $25 to introduce a new healthy, nonperishable product into the store, such as whole wheat bread.  It may cost more to provide an ongoing stock of perishable items, such as fruit, due to the increase in labor and potential for spoilage.

Visit The Food Trust to learn more about the Healthy Corner Store Initiative and other opportunities to address community food access.  To learn more about corner store efforts across the country, visit the Healthy Corner Stores network.

And we encourage donors interested in other strategies to help prevent childhood obesity to check out our report, Prevent Childhood Obesity: Lessons from Greater Philadelphia. As always, we hope the opportunities we present help donors move from good intentions to high impact.