As part of the ANCHOR mission to increase healthy food access within Chester, the American Heart Association will be working with local food pantries in the community. We want to help the food pantries improve access to healthy foods by initiating a “healthy labeling” project to identify heart-healthy options. We will also assist the food pantries with marketing as well as promoting healthy options.
The first organization we will be working with in Chester is the Better Living Center. The Better Living Center provides many important resources to the Chester community, including healthy lifestyle information, after-school programs, and a food pantry. In July, we visited the Better Living Center to observe the operations at the food pantry and conduct a nutritional assessment of the options offered at the pantry. The results from the nutrition survey will allow us to identify the pantry’s strengths and also areas for improvement. We have been creating advertising materials and signage to highlight healthy choices at the pantry. We will be implementing labels for healthy food and beverage options. Additionally, AHA would like to connect the Better Living Center pantry with a new source for healthy foods, such as a local farmers market that may be able to donate produce.
Food pantries are an incredibly important resource in our communities. These food pantries not only provide food, but can be an important source of information about healthy eating and living a healthy lifestyle. A California-based organization called SuperFood Drive is a non-profit organization that focuses on nutrition education and advocacy. The leaders of SuperFood Drive want to make sure that the visitors of food pantries not only receive food, but receive nutritious food for a balanced diet. The organization has had enormous success in working with food pantries to create nutrition strategies and educate about healthy eating. To learn more about this initiative, read the article “The Opposite of Hungry Isn’t Full, It’s Healthy” at http://preventobesity.net/inside-track-december-11-b .