Building a Healthier America

Last week I joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA)’s Building a Healthier Future Summit. It was a fun meeting with lots of good food and guest appearances by Sesame Street’s Abby Cadabby and Doug E. Fresh.

I’m a firm believer that we must make the healthy choice the easy choice to change behavior and improve health. I was happy to see that a lot of other people are working toward that as well.

If you want to scan the live comments, follow the #PHASummit hashtag, but here are just a few of my notes and thoughts from the event…

Michelle Obama spoke and I was happy to hear her encouraging home cooking as a solution to childhood obesity. It’s a message she says she’ll continue to champion after the end of this presidential term. Cooking at home and eating as a family promotes better nutrition and cost savings, Ms. Obama said.

PHA announced several new partners: Dannon, Del Monte, Kwik Trip, Sodexo, Nutri Ventures, Knowledge Universe, FirstBIKE, UnityPoint Health-Trinity, Eskenazi Health, Meridian and St. Luke’s Hospital all made commitments to making healthier choices more accessible and affordable for busy parents and families.

In particular:

Dannon committed to improving nutrient density and reducing sugar and fat in its yogurt products. Dannon will also invest in education and research focused on healthy eating habits.

Del Monte Foods 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.

Kwik Trip, a family-owned business that runs more than 400 convenience stores and other outlets in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, 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.

FirstBIKE is committing to donate balance bikes to the YMCA and similar organizations in order to provide increased physical activity opportunities for children in early childcare environments.

Knowledge Universe is implementing specific standards that promote healthier behavior at its KinderCare, CCLC and Champions centers, focusing on 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.

Nutri Ventures committed to use its multi-media entertainment to promote healthy lifestyles and nutritious foods to children across the country.

Sodexo committed to implement healthy dining programs in 95 percent of its food service accounts, expand healthier food choices in hospitals, offer more free breakfast meals in schools and increase the selection of healthier, more nutritious options in its vending and K-12 lunchroom programs.

Eskenazi Health, Meridian, St. Luke’s Hospital and UnityPoint Health – Trinity have joined nearly 400 hospitals in PHA’s Hospital Healthy Food Initiative in a commitment to offer more healthy options throughout their facilities over the next few years. These hospitals will implement PHA’s Hospital Healthy Food Initiative guidelines, which include improving the nutrition of patient meals as well as that of the food options in on-site cafeterias.

All of the companies set specific benchmarks for their commitments, and you can read those at the PHA website. Dannon, Del Monte and Kwik Trip and FirstBIKE, Knowledge University, Sodexo, Nutri Ventures, and the hospitals.