Pulse: Chatter: Food: Fork in the Road

How Philly — yes, Philly — is helping the nation eat better

Sometime after “Wit Whiz” became the unofficial city motto, but before the word “locavore” entered our Philly lexicon, a small nonprofit called the Food Trust formed a mission: to get healthy food to Philadelphians who need it. Eighteen years later, the Trust is suddenly the group du jour. In February, Michelle Obama visited Philly as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign and praised the Fresh Food Financing Initiative — an FT partnership that uses grants, loans, the reinvestment of state money and private donations for start-up cash for supermarkets and farmers’ markets in local “food deserts.” (That wasn’t long after the President appealed to Congress to look to the Philly program as a model for all 50 states.) The FT’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative — which helps mom-and-pop stores near city schools stock healthier snack options — popped up on Good Morning America; shortly thereafter, the First Lady brought up the Trust’s efforts again on Fox News. It seems that while Philly’s been arguing over who makes the best cheesesteak, the Trust has made us ground zero for a health-food revolution. Here, what Change looks like in our city.


John Welsh Elementary students design and brand labels for healthy snacks and water sold in nearby Diogenes Grocery. 40 more stores in North Philly adopt the idea.

Fresh Grocer Progress Plaza opens last year — the first local neighborhood grocery in 11 years. In February, Michelle Obama stops for a tour. 


Coming soon? The Trust is looking at putting new farmers’ markets and food stands on desolate Race Street Pier this summer.   


University City High is one of five area schools in the Trust’s Farm to School Pilot Program, putting fresh-grown food in school lunches — and supporting local farmers.

Sayre-Morris Recreation Center, along with 32 other rec centers, hosts regular family cooking workshops and after-school activities for kids.

Clark Park Farmer’s Market serves as the Trust’s 2008/2009 test site for accepting food stamps at farmers’ markets, something the Trust hopes to see in all the city’s markets soon.

Brown’s ShopRite Parkside opens in 2008 thanks to the Fresh Food Financing Initiative. It’s the first grocery in the neighborhood in 30+ years. The White House takes note.