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 55% of adults and 25 % of middle schools students are considered overweight or obese in Santa Clara County, and the low-income students are 62 % 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 the Healthy Cornerstore Program. The Health Trust also recognizes the need to challenge policies and systems, which currently create barriers for low-income residents to eat healthy foods. We support our partners to implement the state law, AB551, at the city and county level to incentivize urban agriculture.
The Health Trust is launching several new initiatives that increase access to healthy foods through policy and system change:
Many San Jose neighborhoods are “food swamps”, where food may be plentiful, but healthy choices are not available or affordable to low-income residents. The Good. To Go. campaign seeks to improve San Jose residents’ eating habits by making healthy foods more available and more desirable to consumers. Good. To Go. simultaneously increases consumer demand and supply by marketing “fun, fast, and fresh” options through the following vendor groups located throughout the city, with an emphasis on low-income neighborhoods:
- Urban Farms. Veggielution hosts cooking classes, a CSA program, and a farm stand to bring affordable produce to residents. Sacred Heart hosts the La Mesa Verde program that builds backyard gardens.
- Corner Stores. The stores participating in the Corner Store Network have undergone healthy “makeovers” and/or upgrades to offer healthier, fun, fast, and fresh options.
- Farmers’ Markets. The Health Trust currently supports Fresh Approach’s Mobile Farmers’ Market, which brings fresh, local produce to you. check our Good. To Go. map to see market stops near you.
- Fresh Carts. Two mobile produce carts bring high-quality fruits
and vegetables to San Jose’s AACI and Kaiser clinics.
This city-wide campaign utilizes events, store grand re-openings, fun raffle prizes and give-aways, radio and TV spots, social media, and contests to raise consumer awareness of, and desire for, Good. To Go. options. Through repeat messaging, branding, and communitybased engagement, the Good. To Go. campaign will ensure that healthier options are available and affordable to customers as well as economically viable for vendors.
The Health Trust works closely with the following partners on the Good. To Go.
- Sacred Heart Community Services empowers residents to change policies, such as AB551 to incentivize urban agriculture and also build backyard gardens for residents in low-income neighborhoods through the La Mesa Verde program.
- Changelab provided technical assistance in the form of FAQ documents that helped partners and vendors navigate local, state, and federal laws and identify policy change needs.
- Fresh Approach runs the mobile farmer’s market.
- Salter Mitchell designed city-wide Good. To Go. marketing campaign and promotional materials and trained partners in use of brand and marketing materials.
- Food Trust recruits, trains, and assists local cornerstore owners to increase and promote healthy food offerings at their stores.
- Veggielution runs an urban farm, a subsidized CSA program for East San Jose residents, and a Neighborhood Harvest Program that gleans residents’ excess fruit from trees and donates or sells it to food pantries and the Good. To Go. outlets.
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, supported the local salad bar initiative, which has installed 103 salad bars in Santa Clara County schools (and more in neighboring areas) since 2013. CAFF then integrated these efforts into existing farm-to-school and classroom education.
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 or farm near you click here. The Health Trust is also supporting partners to advocate for the local passage of AB551 to create urban agriculture incentive zones.
Silicon Valley HealthCorps VISTA (SVHC VISTA) is an AmeriCorps program launched in 2015 with the goal of improving access to healthy food and increasing food security in low income areas by building capacity and leveraging resources at partner organizations. In 2015, five VISTA members worked at five partner organizations to train over 700 staff and community volunteers, develop eight new systems and business processes, provide healthy food access services to over 600 beneficiaries, and provide emergency food to 50,000 low income residents. There are now 7 VISTA sites where VISTA members conduct community assessments and outreach, develop training curricula and database systems, increase financial resources, and develop strategic partnerships.
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