(Photo via facebook.com/thefoodtrust/)
Food deserts exist both because healthy food options aren’t available in certain geographical areas and because those options aren’t being demanded by residents.
For instance, some areas might only need a new grocery store or a farmer’s market to increase healthy food consumption, but some might also need in-store marketing and incentives to get customers to buy those healthy foods once they’re available.
The Food Trust’s deputy director, John Weidman, refers to this dilemma as a “chicken and egg issue” — it’s tough to tackle one without the other.
In an attempt to tackle both, the food access nonprofit recently launched the Center for Healthy Food Access (CHFA), a collaborative effort with the goal of sharing and encouraging best practices with likeminded organizations doing food access work across the country.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided $3.2 million across two years to sustain the center; $1 million of that will be regranted by The Food Trust to partner organizations to test strategies that “may have the potential to be expanded,” Weidman said.
CHFA will also work directly with food manufacturers and stores to encourage marketing for healthy food, expand programs that incentivize SNAP recipients to purchase those healthy foods, and publish a report on the most promising strategies, case studies and success stories — all in underserved areas.
Local partners include Reinvestment Fund, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“This is a living project, so we hope to bring on new partners” throughout, Weidman said.
Learn more about the project here.