By Larry A. Soler, president and CEO of the Partnership for a Healthier America
Celebrating 25 years of the Healthy Communities Movement in partnership with the National Civic Review. Read more about the Importance of the Private Sector in Creating Healthier Communities
The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) believes that the key to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic lies in working with the private sector, rather than against it. Today’s children are predicted to live shorter lives than their parents. In order to reverse this epidemic, we need all hands on deck. Everyone from Fortune 500 companies to the scrappiest of nonprofits, to parents, teachers and legislators, has a role to play.
As an increasing number of consumers seek out healthier options in the marketplace, PHA’s more than 70 commitments are realizing the need to adjust their business models in order to match this shift in demand. In the 2012 “Field to Fork” study, conducted by StrategyOne for Edelman, researchers found that 75% of consumers say it’s important for food and beverage companies to change products to make them healthier and 88% of consumers would buy products from a company if they considered the products to be healthy and nutritious.
At its core, PHA works to bring together leaders from across sectors to offer these healthier options. Our goal is to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity within a generation. PHA ensures that commitments made are commitments kept by working with unbiased third parties to monitor and publicly report on the progress our partners are making. This information is published annually in PHA’s Progress Report, which highlights both the successes and challenges experienced by our partners as they work to fulfill their oftentimes multi-year commitments.
Each year at our Building a Healthier Future Summit, we provide a unique opportunity for business and industry leaders to sit with their nonprofit, academic and government counterparts to address this paramount issue. The Summit is about action, not talk. It’s about bringing leaders together in ways that will not only result in new partnerships, but will create tangible solutions to making healthier choices easier for busy parents and families.
At this year’s Summit, which took place March 12 – 14 in Washington, DC, PHA announced six new partnerships with companies across the packaged food, food service, entertainment, and childcare industries:
Dannon, the nation’s leading producer of yogurt, committed to improving nutrient density and reducing sugar and fat in its yogurt products while also investing in education and research focused on healthy eating habits.
Del Monte, one of the country’s largest producers, distributors and marketers of premium quality, branded food products for the U.S. retail market, committed to improving the nutrient density of what it sells through marketing and new product innovation. It also is donating more fruit and vegetable products to anti-hunger efforts.
Knowledge Universe, the largest private early childhood education provider, committed to implementing standards that will promote healthier behavior at its KinderCare, CCLC and Champions centers including limiting screen time, providing ample opportunities for physical activity, healthy food and beverage choices, accommodating mothers who wish to breastfeed and offering engagement and nutrition education for parents.
Kwik Trip, Wisconsin based convenience store chain, committed to improving healthier food access and implementing a new EATSmart program and other policies that promote healthy habits among consumers. Kwik Trip will also start a Healthy Concessions Program that allows organizations to purchase healthier items at discounted prices to use in their fundraising efforts.
Nutri Ventures, an animated series that combines fun stories and a strong, positive message about nutrition in each episode, will only allow food companies that meet PHA’s nutrition guidelines to license it characters. In addition, Nutri Ventures will make its videos, educational materials, character images and web assets available to all public systems in the United States at no cost.
Sodexo, which serves more than 15 million consumers daily at 9,000 client sites in North America, committed to implementing healthy dining programs in 95 percent of its food service accounts, expanding healthier food choices in hospitals, offering more free breakfast meals in schools and increasing the selection of healthier, more nutritious options in its vending and K-12 lunchroom programs.
These new partners join more than 60 other industry leaders who have stepped up to collaborate with PHA in an effort to ensure the health of our children for generations to come. Consumer demand continues to drive this movement and as private industry continues to realize the positive impact meeting this demand can have on the bottom line, making the healthy choice will be that much easier for businesses and consumers alike.
To stay up to date about all things PHA, click here and register for our monthly e-newsletter.
Lawrence (Larry) A. Soler is President and CEO of the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), which works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to ensure the health of our nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis.
Soler joined PHA in January 2011, as the organization’s first employee. Under his leadership, PHA has garnered commitments with more than 70 private sector partners. These commitments are bringing Americans access to healthier, affordable foods; helping kids move more; ensuring healthier environments in childcare settings; and offering healthier choices in the marketplace for billions of customer visits.
Prior to joining PHA, Mr. Soler was Chief Operating Officer for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a $200 million voluntary health organization.