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.
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:
- Fresh Carts. These mobile produce carts are bringing high-quality fruits
and vegetables to San Jose’s neighborhoods while providing jobs and entrepreneurship training to the local vendors who own them.
- Corner Stores. The dozens of stores participating in the Good. To Go. Corner Store Network will undergo healthy “makeovers” and/or upgrades to offer healthier, fun, fast, and fresh options.
- Small Farmers’ Markets. These neighborhood produce markets, run by
community-based organizations, will take advantage of San Jose’s New Food Rules to sell farm-fresh fruits and vegetables in low-income, residential neighborhoods.
The city-wide campaign utilizes events, promotional materials in stores and on Fresh Carts, 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.
- Anew America provides business-related training to Fresh Carts vendors and technical support to Fresh Carts team.
- Changelab provides technical assistance in the form of FAQ documents that help partners and vendors navigate local, state, and federal laws and identify policy change needs.
- Fresh Approach empowers local community-based groups to launch and manage “small, certified farmers’ markets” in low-income, residential neighborhoods.
- Hispanic Chamber of Commerce manages a team of multi-lingual business advisors to implement The Food Trust’s Healthy Cornerstore Program model in San Jose through technical assistance and training to store owners on the sourcing and marketing of healthier meals and snack options as well as produce in small neighborhood stores.
- KARP Resources offers technical support to partners and provides insight and lessons learned from New York’s Green Carts program, upon which Fresh Carts is based.
- Sacred Heart Community Services recruits Fresh Carts vendors, facilitates the Vendors United Collective, and provides ongoing technical assistance to vendors.
- Salter Mitchell designs city-wide Good. To Go. marketing campaign and promotional materials and trains partners in use of brand and marketing materials.
- Somos Mayfair assists with vendor recruitment and Good. To Go. campaign awareness in community.
- Working Partnerships engages community residents in Healthy Cornerstore makeovers, renovations, and grand openings.
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