In 2010, Philadelphia received $25 million from the Department of Health and Human Services to combat obesity and lower tobacco consumption through a variety of policy, systems, and environmental interventions. In response to studies which showed that Philadelphia’s population had significantly higher health risks than the rest of the country, as well as a low availability of healthy food options, money from this grant was directed into improved food programs. This funding included the creation of The Food Trust, a healthy corner store initiative, expanded farmers’ markets, and an increase distribution of local foods to recreational centers and school districts.
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health conducted a Food Access Study in 2010-2011. The study provided a comprehensive assessment of current conditions, calculated the proportion of residents within walking distance of healthy food sources, and weighted those sources according to the level of service they provide (e.g., a 24-hour supermarket scored much higher than a seasonal, once-weekly farmers’ market). Analyzing these data in conjunction with factors like walkability and auto ownership rates allows planners to recommend zoning and infrastructure changes and improvements to maximize residents’ access to healthy foods.
The Food Trust and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health are partnering with as many as 1,000 corner stores to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods through the Healthy Corner Store Initiative (HCSI). The program provides education and micro-grants to encourage store owners to expand their selection of healthy options. Philadelphia will identify strategic locations along commercial corridors and near transit stations for these and other fresh food outlets to create a more equitable food environment throughout Philadelphia.