Healthy Eating Initiative
The mission of the Healthy Eating Initiative is to ensure that every resident in Santa Clara County and Northern San Benito County is able to conveniently purchase and consume affordable, quality, nutritious food. Research shows that when people live in neighborhoods where unhealthy food outlets outnumber stores that stock fresh produce, they experience higher rates of obesity and chronic illness. Although Silicon Valley is considered one of the healthier regions in America, there remain disparities in disease and food access across communities and income levels. The Community Health Existing Conditions Report found that only 15 percent of San Jose food retailers offer healthy options, and the proportion of unhealthy food outlets was higher in lower income areas. This report also reveals that fifty-five percent of adults and 25 percent of middle schools students are considered overweight or obese in Santa Clara County, and the low-income students are 62 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than middle- to high-income students. Since 2009, The Health Trust has invested programs that increase access to healthy food, such as community and school gardens, farmers’ markets, farm-to-institution, and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). The Health Trust also recognizes the need to challenge policies and systems, which currently create barriers for low-income residents to eat healthy foods. In Spring 2014, The Health Trust will launch several new initiatives that increase access to healthy foods through policy and system change:
This mobile produce vendor program will bring uncut, fresh fruits and vegetables to public areas in residential neighborhoods of San Jose. The program provides entrepreneurial opportunities to neighborhood residents, who will operate their own carts, while increasing access to healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods. Based on a program created in New York City, Fresh Carts Silicon Valley will be launched in Spring 2014, in partnership with Sacred Heart Community Services, AnewAmerica and Karp Resources.
In neighborhoods that don’t have supermarkets, residents shop frequently at small markets and convenience stores. These stores stock many snack foods and sugary beverages, but they carry little or no fresh fruits or vegetables. The Healthy Corner Store campaign is scheduled to be launched in 2014 by Enterprise Foundation, the nonprofit branch of the Silicon Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It will provide equipment and technical assistance to store owners who agree to carry fresh produce and other healthy items. This initiative is based on The Food Trust’s model for improving healthy food options in Philadelphia corner stores. Read about the Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Model.
Small Farmers’ Markets
In 2013, following a campaign led by The Health Trust, the City of San Jose cut the red tape needed to open small farmers’ markets on private property. As a result, 10 new small, certified markets are expected to open in targeted, low income areas of the city by 2015. The Health Trust provided a grant to Fresh Approach to provide training and technical assistance to community organizations to host and manage these markets. Learn more (PDF) about San Jose’s new farmers’ market rules or receive technical assistance to start a small, certified market at your site. You can also find your nearest farmers’ market on our new interactive map.
Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools
When children are offered salad bars in their school cafeteria, they eat more fruits and vegetables. That’s why First Lady Michelle Obama launched a national Let’s Move Salad Bars to School effort. The Health Trust and partners, including Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Gilroy Foundation, are major supporters of the local salad bar initiative, which expects to install salad bars in 25 Santa Clara County schools by June 2014. The Health Trust partners and grantees are working to integrate these efforts into existing farm-to-school and classroom education to ensure institutional sustainability and behavior change.
Since 2008, The Health Trust has supported projects that increase access to healthy food through edible gardening and garden-based education projects at schools, public spaces, multi-unit dwellings and private residences. With guidance from The Health Trust and our partners, the City of San Jose issued new rules for neighborhood agriculture. Here’s a handy guide to growing, making and selling food in San Jose. To find a garden near you click here.
As part of this effort to promote community and school gardens, The Health Trust launched the Silicon Valley HealthCorps, an AmeriCorps program, in 2009. AmeriCorps members work at partner sites, including schools and community-based organization, to build edible gardens and provide on-site garden and nutrition education to children and families. In 2014, the 24 HealthCorps members will work at 10 partner agencies with over 3,000 volunteers to create and maintain over 70 gardens and farms, distribute more than 150,000 pounds of produce, and teach thousands of children the joys of growing their own food.
The Health Trust Meals On Wheels program provides hot meals and daily wellness checks to more than 700 homebound seniors and disabled people throughout Santa Clara County. While those who can are asked to contribute to the cost of this service, low-income clients are not charged. Essential services include:
- Home delivery of nutritious meals daily to physically challenged, homebound individuals, whether they are elderly, are recuperating after a recent hospitalization, or have disabilities confining them to a wheelchair
- daily wellness checks when trained food drivers visit the client’s home
- case management that connects clients with needed services