Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Daniel and Jordan's Mom Says "Eat Your Vegetables!"

As a mother I can really appreciate this note from the inbox:

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz introduced a bi-partisan resolution today, co-sponsored by 32 members of Congress, to recognize the need for a national program to provide an effective and economically sustainable solution to the problem of limited access to healthy foods in underserved communities. The National Fresh Food Financing Initiative (NFFFI) will support efforts of the private sector to open retail outlets, such as grocery stores and supermarkets, which would provide Americans with healthier food options. The initiative will improve the health of many Americans and stimulate local economic development.

The NFFFI is based on the successful Pennsylvania initiative, a public-private partnership created in 2004. The Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative has helped develop 78 supermarkets and fresh food outlets in underserved rural and urban areas throughout the Commonwealth, creating or retaining 4,800 jobs in those communities.

“Every day millions of Americans walk out their front doors and see nothing but fast food and convenience stores selling high-fat, high-sugar, processed foods,” Schwartz said. “This lack of retail outlets that sell healthy food options results in higher rates of obesity, diabetes and other heath-related issues. The success of the Pennsylvania initiative should be used as the model for a national plan to improve children’s health, create jobs and spur economic development nationwide.”

The Pennsylvania Congresswoman believes a National Fresh Food Financing Initiative will reduce health disparities and improve the health of families and children, create steady jobs at decent wages, and stimulate local economic development by sparking complementary retail stores and services nearby.

A NFFFI would attract investment in underserved communities by providing flexible grant and loan financing. These critical one-time resources will help fresh food retailers overcome the higher initial barriers of entry into underserved communities. Additionally, it would support renovation and expansion of existing stores so they can provide the healthy foods that communities want and need.

“Given the nation’s current economic climate, the need for fresh food access for these communities is even more imperative,” Schwartz said. “Grocery stores and supermarkets face higher obstacles to locating stores in underserved communities. Obesity and health related problems are expected to worsen during these hard economic times. It is important that we ensure all Americans have access to the food they need to live healthier lives.”

On December 16th at 9:30 am in Room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing titled “Innovations in Addressing Childhood Obesity.” The hearing will examine innovative strategies to reduce obesity among children and adolescents and Jeremy Nowak, Ph.D., President and CEO of The Reinvestment Fund, is among the list of invited witnesses. Nowak will provide testimony on how Pennsylvania has been working to address childhood obesity through the PFFFI.

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