Through Policy Change

Improving access to healthy food in underserved communities across the country

The Issue

Lack of access to healthy, affordable food and related diet-related diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, are important public health issues, must be addressed both through direct intervention and through broader policy change to create long-lasting impact.

The Food Trust Solution

The Food Trust and its partners advocate for policy change at all levels: institutional, city, state and federal. These policy changes include:


  • Leading a coalition  to remove soda and other sugary drinks from vending machines in Philadelphia schools and working with the School District of Philadelphia to enact one of the country's strongest snack food policies.
  • Creating and implementing healthy in-store marketing policies in supermarkets and corner stores.


  • Advocating for and co-administering the New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative, which is helping the city attract much-needed fresh food retail development.
  • Working with the Center for Closing the Health Gap and other local organizations in Cincinnati to advocate for the creation of a new $5 million financing fund to encourage healthy food access in lower-income areas.
  • Partnering with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health on its Get Healthy Philly initiative to make the “healthy choice the easy choice” by increasing the access and affordability of healthy foods through the Philly Food Bucks program, the Healthy Corner Store Network, school wellness programs and an expansion of farmers markets in high-need areas.


  • Leading an advocacy campaign for Pennsylvania to recapitalize the Fresh Food Financing Initiative, a groundbreaking business financing program for healthy food access. In response to the work of The Food Trust and our partners, Pennsylvania began appropriating $1 million annually to the program in 2018, and created a special COVID-19 relief program for healthy food retailers with CARES Act funding in 2020. The new program has invested in more than 20 grocery stores, farmers markets, public markets and nonprofits since 2018 that serve an estimated 65,000 people.
  • Leading an advocacy campaign for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to invest in a nutrition incentives program that can provide resources for people using SNAP and other public assistance programs. In response to our advocacy, the State plans to dedicate $250,000 in seed funding to the program in 2021, and we anticipate increased investment in future years.
  • Working with partners in six states across the country to develop policy recommendations to increase participation in SNAP.
  • Working with HBCUs in three states across the country to identify barriers in their ability to access federal SNAP-Ed funding which could be used to conduct nutrition education in communities of color experiencing health disparities.
  • Encouraging fresh food retail development in states across the country through healthy food financing initiatives, including New York's Healthy Food, Healthy Communities Fund and the Illinois Fresh Food Fund
  • Increasing healthy food access as a lead partner organization with Voices for Healthy Kids, a new collaboration between the American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation working to engage, organize and mobilize people to improve the health of their communities and reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. 
  • Exploring statewide support for "farm to early childhood" practices and programs through outreach, education and task force activities in partnership with the Pennsylvania Head Start Association, and supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Farm to early childhood practices include local food purchasing for meals and snacks, gardening and nutrition education to support healthy eating habits in young children; engaging families about healthy food access; and connecting communities to their local farming community. 


  • Working with partners PolicyLink and The Reinvestment Fund to advocate for the national Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a partnership between the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Agriculture and Health to encourage fresh food retail development across the country.
  • Educating policymakers on the SNAP-Ed program, which provides nutrition education to participants of the food stamp program and is a critical component of the comprehensive approach necessary to reverse the obesity epidemic. In Philadelphia, where childhood obesity rates are beginning to decrease, SNAP-Ed nutrition educators are active in almost every school.
  • Convening a regional Farm Bill working group to advocate for the Greater Philadelphia region.



For more information, contact .

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