The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has selected Philadelphia Urban Food and Fitness Alliance (PUFFA) Grow and Sow initiative to lead its Food & Community Program effort. Health Promotion Council, on behalf of PUFFA, will administer the $1.2 million grant. PUFFA aims to change policies and organizational practices in order to construct a local food system that forms the foundation for growing neighborhood economies in ways that are environmentally sustainable. The national grant is one of eight awarded today by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for community-led projects that work to transform food systems locally.

Vanessa Briggs, executive director of Health Promotion Council said, “This is an exciting opportunity for Philadelphia to develop long-term solutions through policy and system changes to address health disparities and inequities that continue to erode our most vulnerable and marginalized communities.”

PUFFA’s Sow and Grow initiative will target two neighborhoods centered on developing grassroots learning and advocacy communities devoted to improving living conditions through increasing access to healthy food and physical activity opportunities. “It is our hope that we will improve the lives of vulnerable children, support public health and provide jobs, learning, and entrepreneurial opportunities for adult and young people,” said Briggs. “Young people are our future leaders and will be the driving force behind PUFFA.”

The new grant extends the work that PUFFA began in 2007 under the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s earlier Food & Fitness program. Up until October 2009, PUFFA created a dynamic working collaborative representing multiple sectors including food systems and agriculture, public health, health care, transportation and other urban and rural planners, community advocates, youth and young adult leaders, parents, school personnel, parks and recreation and faith-based groups. PUFFA created a community action plan by focusing on building relationships and directly understanding the rich assets and needs of the community.

Tina Sloan Green, president of the Black Women in Sport Foundation, said, “I am excited about the great opportunity the Kellogg grant offers to drive and expand our efforts by further engaging community and providing opportunities to link with others.” Sloan added, “This grant allows further leveraging of efforts among groups working in the food and physical activity areas to ultimately improve the lives of our youth and families in underserved communities.”

“Building on more than a decade of pioneering work to improve food systems, the Kellogg Foundation is harnessing this momentum with community partners around the country and leading the way toward a nation where all children thrive with equal access to good food and opportunities for physical activity,” said Gail C. Christopher, vice president for programs with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The Food & Community program focuses on local collaborative efforts, taking a variety of community-led approaches on four key priorities:

  • Transforming school food systems
  • Improving community food environments
  • Promoting active living and routine physical activity
  • Sustaining and expanding the growing national movement for healthy food and active living

In Philadelphia, PUFFA partners have already accomplished much, including:

  • The Menu Labeling Bill requiring comprehensive nutrition analysis information be available at the point of decision-making

Unprecedented cross-sector collaboration including:

  • Building Healthier Communities
  • Black Women in Sport Foundation
  • Community Leaders/Advocates
  • Fair Food
  • Health Promotion Council
  • Nu Sigma Youth Services
  • Penn State Cooperative Extension
  • Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
  • Philadelphia Department of Health
  • Public Health Management Corporation
  • Region III Department of Health and Human Services
  • The Common Market
  • The Food Trust
  • Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • WHYY Public Broadcasting
  • University Nutrition Initiative
  • And host of other partners

With this new funding and support from the Kellogg Foundation, PUFFA looks forward to putting plans in motion to create a healthier community for all. Specific efforts will include:

  • Increasing the number of children eating breakfast and lunch in Philadelphia schools
  • Improving the nutritional quality of food served at breakfast and lunch
  • Effecting change in the sedentary culture
  • Increasing the number and quality of available space through active physical involvement in neighborhood revitalization efforts
  • Increasing the purchasing power of families with children by maximizing enrollment and benefit levels in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Women, Infant, Children Program
  • Advocating for policy changes to increase acceptance of Electronic Benefit Transfer cards among vendors selling farm-fresh produce
  • Supporting the expansion of a wide variety of food outlets serving affordable local produce by linking them to the Common Market and other food distribution initiatives

Kellogg’s Food & Community Programs also leverage the foundation’s regional and national investments by connecting urban school districts with regional food sources and linking information and tools of various funders’ projects to inform policy and systems change.