Bringing Healthy, Affordable Food to Underserved Communities

Bringing Healthy, Affordable Food to Underserved Communities


Manuel Lozano:
Good afternoon, my name
is Mayor Manuel Lozano. I am the mayor of city of
Baldwin Park located in Los Angeles County, California. Baldwin Park is a strong
working class community of 80,000 people. Predominantly, first and second
generation Latinos and a growing Asian population. In our small city, we have
six fast food restaurants. And a convenience store for
every one grocery store. For the past five years, the
city of Baldwin Park has been actively engaged in changing
this food landscape by working with restaurants and community
partners to develop a strategy for improving food
access in Baldwin Park. We have searched for good food
retailers who have improved our food access. We couldn’t find any. And last year the tide finally
turned and we began to partner to bring in a new grocery store
to the heart of our community. Now with the attention of the
First Lady on healthy food access, children and our
community will be able to buy an apple near where they live and
their parents will have access to new jobs. Make no mistake, the health of
our communities is determined by what it is. How can we eat healthy if
we can’t buy healthy food where we live? But this work is not just about
getting retail grocers to come into our community. It is about improving the
quality of food available, so that everyone can make the
healthy choice, the easy choice. It is also about working with
the existing stores that we can have in our community. Many of them liquor stores that
want to become more complete corner markets with meat,
poultry, and fish selection. It is about helping stores
improve the quality of their selection so people
want to shop there. Our healthy selection initiative
in Baldwin Park is making a difference for your residents. Finally, mayors across the
country know how important it is for the health
of their children, and for the economic health
of their neighborhoods. To make sure healthy
food is attractive, available and easier to buy. As mayor with the help of
my city council members, I have passed the first
municipal healthy food policy in the nation and limiting
the highest fat, sugar, and sodium food from vending
machines in youth programs. Whole city business development
round table calling on local food retailers to adopt the
healthy selection program, prioritize healthy food
access and more fruits and vegetables offering. It makes changes to the store
plans and make their check out aisles candy free. Recognize corner stores making
improvement with the healthy selection program at the — at
the community events and at the city council level. Call on city staff to seek a
good food retail anchor for the downtown redevelopment project
in the heart of Baldwin Park and require that grocers too. Create jobs and make sure
those jobs are available and attainable to Baldwin
Park residents. Improve the floor plan to make
it more open to healthy front selections and to make
pedestrian friendly walkways, breezeways and good shading
leading to the — leading to the grocery stores making it easier
and more secure for residents. I am honored to be part of our
First Lady’s announcement in support of access
to healthy food. These types of initiatives will
help every community access healthy foods, create new jobs,
improve property value and make our community healthier. In a message from the
people of Baldwin Park, health happens here. So it is now my honor to
introduce James Gavin, Chairman of the Partnership
of Healthier America. (applause) James Gavin:
Thank you very much
and good afternoon. My name is Dr. James Gavin and I
am chairman of the board for the Partnership for a
Healthier America. An organization created to work
with the private sector to help the nation’s childhood
obesity crisis. Today, I am pleased to announce
that we are making meaningful and significant progress
towards that goal. Today we move past talking
about statistics that shows the severity of the problem
and focus on steps toward a solution. Currently, there are 23 and half
million people in this country who have limited access to
healthy, affordable food. 23 million people who
cannot buy produce. Who cannot bring healthy
groceries home to their tables without great effort. For these 23 million people all
the reasons in the world to eat healthy are practically mute. But now with the companies who
have joined us today and with the visionary leadership of
First Lady Michelle Obama, we’ll help to make the healthy
choice the easy choice. Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Super
Value, Klein’s Family Markets, Calhoun Enterprises, and Brown’s
Super Stores along with the California Endowments fresh
works fund financing program will bring healthy affordable
food to nearly ten million people over the next five years
in the form of new and expanded stores in areas that
desperately need them. That represents more than
40% of everyone in America currently facing this problem. I would be remiss here if I
didn’t pause to thank Policy Link, the Reinvestment Fund, and
others for the groundwork that has been laid for years
leading up to this event. Similarly, we would not be
making this announcement today without the leadership of
groups like the Food Marketing Institute, who along with the
National Grocers Association and others have continually
pushed this issue forward. In addition, these new
stores bring more than food. They bring jobs. Of the 23 and half million
people living in areas that lack stores selling affordable
and nutritious use food, 11 and half million are
individuals living in households with incomes at or below
200% of the poverty line. Six and half million
are children. Today’s announcement will
mean more than better food and better health. It will mean better
opportunity for work. According to the companies
themselves ten thousands of jobs will be created as a
result of this announcement. Perhaps most importantly, the
leadership these companies have shown goes far beyond just
a statement in a video. And a press release. These companies have signed
commitments with the partnership for a healthier America. And it will be part of the
partnership’s tasks to report annually and publicly on each
of the company’s progress, ensuring that the commitments
made to build and expand stores where people need them are met. That commitment is a testament
to each of the companies we have here today. Their leadership has resulted in
some truly awesome commitments that will benefit millions of
Americans for generations. Walgreens is committing
to convert at least 1,000 of their stores where people
currently cannot get access to healthy affordable foods
into food oasis stores. This means that whole
fruits and vegetables, precut fruit salads and green
salads and basic amenities like breads, and readymade meals will
now be available to nearly five million people who live in areas
currently with limited access to the basics. That is five million people. Super Value, a 140
year old company, which has long specialized in
providing affordable produce to underserved areas, has committed
to build another 250 Save-A-Lot stores over the next five
years in or around areas that currently have little
to no access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Just as important, the Save-A-Lot
model allows them to keep prices very low, making it even
easier for people to make the healthy choice. Their commitment today will
serve an additional 3.75 million people and create more
than six thousand jobs. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart
pledged to make the food it sells healthier. And the healthier food it sells
more affordable and available. Today we are delighted that
Wal-Mart is continuing to deliver on that commitment
with a plan to address underserved markets. Over the next five years,
Wal-Mart has committed to build or to expand nearly 300
stores in or near areas where they are needed most. Serving more than 800,000 people
who struggle with access to fresh produce and
affordable groceries. Wal-Mart also estimates that
more than 40,000 associates will work in these stores. It is important to note, however,
that not every bag of groceries is being purchased
from a national chain. Smaller and independent
grocers are stepping up too. Led by Greg Calhoun, Calhoun
Enterprises is an African American family owned local
chain of six grocery stores in Alabama. They serve areas in and around
Montgomery where their stores are often the sole source of
groceries in the communities they serve. As someone who grew
up in Mobile, Alabama, who has long known
of the Calhoun brand, I take personal pride in
announcing that over the next five years, Calhoun has
committed to build ten stores in or near areas that currently
have no viable options for healthy affordable food. Ten stores. Four in Tennessee
and six in Alabama. Calhoun’s is more than doubling
their store count to serve at least 10,000 people who need
them, while employing another 500 on top of that. I would like Walgreens, Wal-Mart
and Super Value to take note here, Mr. Calhoun has more
than doubled his store count. (laughter and applause) A goal that I would like to see
all three of you try to meet. (laughter) Jeff Brown, of Brown’s Super
Stores has emerged as a leading voice among grocery operators on
a mission to improve access to affordable food in
underserved areas. He has committed to opening
a new ShopRite supermarket in Philadelphia and expanding
one other store in the area. Both of these projects will be
critical for the thousands of people they will serve. In addition, Jeff has founded
UpLift Solutions a non profit foundation to help grocery
owners and governments navigate the barriers to opening
stores in under serve areas. UpLift Solutions will provide
exactly the kind of help to the Klein family who will
be opening a ShopRite in Baltimore, Maryland. The three new and expanded
stores Jeff Brown and the Klein family have committed to,
will serve more than 200,000 people and create 600 new
jobs for their communities. Finally, I would
like to recognize the California Endowment. One of the founders,
of the Partnership for a Healthier America. And a national leader in efforts
to reverse childhood obesity. Through its FreshWorks fund,
the California Endowment will help make $200 million in
financing available to new independent retail channels and
innovative food distribution programs in California
through a combination of financing and grants. FreshWorks brought together
industry leaders like Unified Grocers and a range
of other partners, including health care providers
like Kaiser Permanente, and financial trailblazers like
the nonprofit NCB Capital Impact. Their innovative financing model
will be used to bring healthy, affordable food to the millions
in California who are currently lacking access. Plus, the FreshWorks fund is
expected to create or retain about 6,000 jobs
for Californians. Jeff Brown, Marshal Klein,
Greg Calhoun, Walgreen, Wal-Mart and Super Value,
the California Endowment, their collective commitments
will help nearly ten million people stop by their local store
and Pick up groceries for dinner on their way home. They will help millions
stock up for the week. Or take advantage of a sale
without having to cross a city or a county to do so. They will employ tens of
thousands of people who need work in their communities. We have more than 12.5 million
children and adolescents in this country who are obese. We are currently raising the
first generation of kids who could have a shorter life span
than the generation that came before them. Solving this crisis
is essential. This is why the leadership of
the First Lady is so critical and why today’s
announcement is so exciting. This is why the partnership for
a healthier America is here. To move beyond the rhetoric
and to deliver on an implicit promise we make to our children. And while we know the
fight is far from over, today we move closer to our goal
of ending childhood obesity. Today we make access to
healthy affordable food a reality for millions. Because it is one thing to know
you have to eat your greens to pursue better health. It is another thing entirely to
actually be able to buy them. Thank you very much. (applause) Now I would like to turn it
over to Josephine Grossie, who has been the produce manager
at the SHOP ‘n SAVE in Ambridge, Pennsylvania for
almost two decades. Josie is described as the heart
and soul of the department and one of the most dedicated hard
working employees at the store. She takes great pride in her
work and can be counted on to do whatever needs to be done. So on a special day for here,
for her, she is here with us. Josie. (applause) Josephine Grossie:
Thank you. Good afternoon. As you know, my name is
Josephine Grossie and I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am truly honored to be
here today to celebrate the “Let’s Move” program. For more than 50 years, I have
been a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and recently
I am a great grandmother. My family health and wellness
and happiness was most important to me. As a mother, I have always
tried to provide my family with healthy meals, nutrition
snacks and to encourage them to stay active. After all, even the youngest
child to do the hokey pokey or dance around in a play ground. But for the last 30 years,
I have also enjoyed providing other families healthy
options to meal planning. For more than half of my life,
I have been committed to my community, working
as a produce manager. And for the past 18 years, I
have worked at a local owned and operated grocery store. It is called SHOP ‘n SAVE. I have worked with the owner
Phil Saffrin and his family to promote and encourage
health and eating options for all of our customers. As an example, instead of
children getting donuts and cookies at our store, we provide
them with fruits and vegetables free of charge. Two years ago, our store
benefited from a grant and was remodeled to quadruple the
size of our produce department. We now are able to offer our
customers a much wider array of produce options. I have seen firsthand what a
more healthy option can do. It translates to our customers
leaving our store with a healthy cart of groceries. Okay. In my 30 years working in
produce and nearly 50 as a mom, I have seen children can really
enjoy fruits and vegetables. We make that happen; providing
kids with these foods to build a foundation for a healthy life. Today, I have been given
the honor to introduce the First Lady Mrs. Obama
recently announced her “Let’s Move” campaign. To help bring together community
leaders, teachers, doctors, nurses, moms, dads, and a
nationwide effort to tackle the challenge of
childhood obesity. The “Let’s Move” program has set
an ambitious but important goal to solve the epidemic of
childhood obesity within our generation. “Let’s Move” will give parents
the support they need, provide healthier
food in schools, help kids to be more physically
active and make healthy, affordable foods available in
every part of our country. As moms, and fathers, and
members of our communities, we all need to do our part to
ensure our children are getting the vitamins and the
nutrition that they need. I am very proud and honored
to introduce another mom who believes that healthy habits
are born and bred at home, our First Lady Michelle Obama. (applause) First Lady Michelle Obama:
Thank you. Thank you, everyone. Thanks so much. Please, rest yourselves. Good afternoon. Audience:
Good afternoon. First Lady Michelle Obama:
Well, this is very cool. (laughter) I am thrilled to be here today. And I want to start by thanking
Josephine for that very kind introduction and for
her wonderful remarks. And I have to say, I have to
out you, today is her birthday. (applause) So happy birthday. She just turned 30 — (laughter) — and I think that she’s going
to go out and party and hang out, go to some clubs. (laughter) So we hope this has been a good
way to start your birthday. We are thrilled to have you. I also want to acknowledge the
members of Congress who are with us today. Thank you all for taking
time to come and join us. I want to thank Mayor Lozano for
his leadership and his service. There you are. Thank you so much. And I have to recognize my
partner in crime, Jim Gavin. I always know that when I see
him, there’s good news ahead. So we are happy to have him, as
well as the Partnership for a Healthier America, for being
here and for their role in helping to gather these
commitments and ensuring our success going forward. That partnership has been a
tremendous part of “Let’s Move.” And finally, I want to
thank all of the businesses, all of the nonprofits, all
the elected officials here. I want to thank you
for your passion. I want to thank you for your
conviction and for your dedication to our communities. And going off-script just a
bit, I would like all of the employees who have
come here today — because these businesses brought
the stars of their show, the men and women who
work in these stores — would you all please stand? (applause) Good stuff. So make no mistake about
it: This is a big deal. It is a really big deal. I think our Vice President put
it better but I’m not going to use his words. (laughter) This is a really big deal. (laughter) The commitments that you all are
making today have the potential to be a game-changer for our
kids and for our communities all across this country. See, when we started “Let’s
Move” way back when we launched it, we made healthy food
financing one of our four key pillars, and there’s
a reason for that. There’s a reason why we set a
goal that every family in every community in America would
have access to fresh, healthy, affordable food. And we knew that
goal was ambitious. We knew that a lot of folks had
been working on this problem for years, and few had
been able to solve it. And we knew the conventional
wisdom on this issue — that businesses won’t take the
risk of investing in certain communities, that the costs are
too high but the profits too low to make it worthwhile. But we also knew that if we
truly wanted to end the epidemic of childhood obesity, if we
truly wanted all of our kids to have the chance to
grow up healthy, then we didn’t have a choice. We needed to confront
this problem head on. Because we can give people all
of the information and advice in the world about healthy
eating and exercise. We can talk all we want about
calorie counts and recipes and how to serve balanced meals. But if parents can’t buy the
food they need to prepare those meals, if their only options for
groceries are in the corner gas station or the local minimart,
then all that is just talk. It’s all just talk, and that is
not what “Let’s Move” is about. “Let’s Move” is about giving
parents real choices about the food their kids are eating. And if a parent wants to pack
a piece of fruit in a child’s lunch, if a parent wants to add
some lettuce for a salad at dinner, they shouldn’t have
to take three city buses, or pay some expensive taxi to
go to another community to make that possible. Instead, they should have fresh
food retailers right in their communities — places that
sell healthy food at reasonable prices, so that they can feed
their families in the way that they see fit, because when
they have those choices, that can have a real, measurable
impact on a family’s health, and we all know that. Studies have shown that people
who live in communities with greater access to supermarkets
eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and they have
lower rates of obesity. Now, we know this isn’t
going to be easy — nothing we do ever is. We know that we can’t just
throw money at this problem, especially not at this time. And we know that it won’t be
solved by government alone or by businesses alone or
by communities alone. If we want to make a
difference in this issue, we all are going to have
to step up — all of us. We all have to find
a way to do our part. Solving this problem is about
people like Mayor Lozano and Representative Dwight Evans, who
decided that no child should be consigned to a life of
poor health because of the neighborhood that his
or her family lives in. So what did they do? They started reaching
out to businesses, helping folks set up shop in
communities in their area. It’s about organizations
like the Food Trust, who have been studying this
issue and creating models for how to solve it. It’s about coalitions
like the FreshWorks Fund, who have come together and
pooled their resources and expertise, and they’ll
be bringing small, family-owned grocery stores into
underserved communities all across California. And it’s, of course, about
companies like Walgreens and Wal-Mart and SuperValu. It’s about entrepreneurs like
Greg Calhoun and Jeffrey Brown — all of them are stepping up. They decided to take that risk. They decided to make
that investment, because what they knew was
how big that payoff could be. Not just in terms of dollars,
but in the lives of our children, the lives
that we can save. You see, they didn’t do this
just as executives who care about their company’s
bottom lines — and I’ve met these people. They did it as parents and as
grandparents who care about the health of our kids. They did it as leaders who care
about our country’s future. And I think that Jeff Brown
put it best when he said, and these are his words,
“We’re not going to be on the sidelines.” He said, “We’re going to be
right with our communities using what we’re good at: solving
problems through innovation and entrepreneurial thinking.” And I have had the pleasure of
seeing firsthand what happens when folks like Jeff put that
innovation and entrepreneurial thinking into work
in our communities. Last year, I had the
privilege of visiting Philly, a city where just seven
years ago there were fewer supermarkets per person than
almost anywhere in America. But today, because of the
dedicated efforts of elected officials and nonprofit
organizations and businesses across the state
of Pennsylvania, they have funded 88 supermarket
projects in 34 counties, bringing nutritious food
to more than 500,000 people in that state. And they’re projecting to
create or preserve more than 5,000 jobs, often in communities
that need these jobs the most. And I visited one of those
stores during my time there, and I have to tell you
from firsthand experience, the stores are thriving. These are beautiful, bright,
gleaming stores that would make any community proud. And the people who work there
and shop there were proud to be part of it. They were proud to have
that kind of store in their communities. And they would turn
in a good profit. And we know that when these
stores succeed they can serve as anchors in our communities,
drawing customers from surrounding neighborhoods
and communities, and creating jobs for people
like Josie and so many others, and all the folks out there
who are wanting to work in their communities. And that, in turn, can attract
other businesses to come and set up shop, which can mean
even more customers and even more jobs. So we know the impact
that we can have here. All of us understand how
important this is on so many different fronts. And that’s why as
part of “Let’s Move,” we created a Healthy Food
Financing Initiative to encourage efforts like those
in Philadelphia to happen all across American. We can do it there, we
can do it everywhere. And this administration is
committing $35 million this year, and the 2012 budget
proposes another $330 million for next year. (applause) And the plan is to use that
money to leverage hundreds of millions more from the private
and nonprofit sectors. So I think it’s fair to say
that we’ve got some big things happening here. It’s pretty good. Just listening backstage,
I mean, I knew all the — I knew the announcement. They told me ahead of time. (laughter) But it was pretty impressive. But these commitments we’re
announcing today are still just the beginning. We’ve got a lot of hard work
ahead, long road, lot of work. So I want to be clear that
today isn’t just a celebration; it is also a call to action. Still, the companies represented
here today are only a tiny fraction of the total number of
food retailers in this country. And if they can step up
and make these investments, then there is absolutely no
reason why every food retailer in this country can’t find some
way to get involved as well. Right? Can I get an amen or something? Audience:
Yes! First Lady Michelle Obama:
Yes. (applause) So whether you’re a small, local
grocer like Jeff or Greg or a multinational corporation,
everyone has a role to play. And we want folks to be creative
because there’s really no one-size-fits-all solution
to this issue here. Every community has different
needs and challenges that call for different approaches. A fresh food section in a
Walgreens might be a good solution for one community,
while a farmers market or maybe even a veggie truck might be the
answer in another community. At the end of the day, these are
local decisions that need to be made by communities,
for communities. So we need folks to go out and
talk to their community leaders, and that’s, again, not just a
call to action to the business community, but to all Americans,
particularly those living in areas that are
underserved in this way. Talk to community leaders. Get connected with nonprofit
organizations and foundations that are working on this issue. We encourage people to go to
our website, LetsMove.gov. There they can learn about other
individuals and communities that are working to solve this
problem and find ideas. Because the truth is, is that
if we work together and do this right, if we bring the kind
of success that we’ve had in Philadelphia to other cities and
other communities across this country, just think about the
difference that we can make. Think about the numbers of
people who will find jobs. Think about the neighborhoods
that can potentially be transformed. But more importantly, think
about the impact that we can have on our children
and their futures — on their health,
their well-being, their ability to succeed
in school and more importantly in life. Because that’s really what
this is about in the end. This is about our kids. And together, with
these commitments, we are happily taking the first
important step forward to helping to create the kind of
future that we want for all of our kids. So I want to end today by
saying how proud I am — truly proud — of what
is happening here today. I want to tell all of you how
grateful I am to see you all stepping up and being
leaders in this effort. With your commitments today,
you all are showing us what’s possible. You’re showing us that we live
in a country where we do care deeply about our kids. We do. And when people understand the
threat of childhood obesity and what risk it poses to
our children’s future, and when people realize that
they can actually do something about it, that this isn’t some
mysterious issue that we can’t address, we know the
answer, it is right there, then people step up. They do what we’ve always
done for our children. We take risks. We make sacrifices so that our
kids can have a better life than we had, so that they can
have opportunities that we never dreamed of. So in the end, that is what
“Let’s Move” is all about. That’s what these
commitments represent. And I look forward to working
with all of you, doing more, getting more retailers on
board, creating more jobs, getting more fresh fruit and
vegetables into the hands of families all across this nation. We are going to get this done. We’re making some
terrific progress, but we still have work to do. And I look forward to working
with all of you in the months and years ahead. Thank you all so much. (applause)