Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Partnership For A Healthier America Announces New Commitments For Let's Move! Campaign

Hyatt Hotels will change menu offerings; Kaiser Permanent will spotlight breastfeeding; The Fresh Grocer will build markets in food deserts; Kellogg Foundation commits $3 million; "Healthy Kids Out of School" initiative launched...
Update: Click here for a post about Mrs. Obama's keynote address
On Tuesday morning in Washington, DC, at the inaugural national childhood obesity summit from Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), chairman James R. Gavin III announced new corporate commitments from Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, Kaiser Permanente and The Fresh Grocer to support First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign. More than 800 participants attended the first day of the "Building a Healthier America" summit, which featured a morning address from both Newark's Mayor Cory Booker and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist (R-TN), honorary vice-chairs of PHA. (Above: Gavin during his remarks)

PHA is the non-profit responsible for managing and monitoring the Let's Move! commitments from private sector partners, including the pledges from Walmart and other grocers to build stores in food deserts, and from national chain Darden Restaurants to revamp its menu offerings. Mrs. Obama serves as PHA's honorary chairwoman, and will give the keynote address on Wednesday at the summit.

Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass was on hand Tuesday as the conference began at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, as was Let's Move! Executive Director Dr. Judy Palfrey, mingling with participants. Kass emceed "The Great American Family Dinner Challenge" on Tuesday night. (Above: Kass with an executive from Kaiser Permanente)

Choice architecture: "Indulgences will continue to be offered"
The mantra from PHA is "making the healthier choice the easier choice," and the Partnership is devoted to encouraging changes both large and small from private sector and non-profit participants who join the national campaign to end childhood obesity. The collective commitments have the potential to reach "tens of millions" citizens, according to Gavin. He announced that Hyatt's commitment will reach 23 million consumers annually; the company will change "the nutritional profile" of its children’s and full menus across all of its restaurants, by adding one "healthier option" to its Children's Menus in the US and Canada based on the MyPlate campaign.

This will include making a fruit or vegetable available as a default side, and offering low- and non-fat milk instead of soda and sugary beverages. This project will be completed by November of 2012. The company also pledged to reduce fat, salt and sodium by 10 percent in all menu offerings, in a project that will be completed by 2016. The company noted in its press release that it has already been focusing on making such changes, prior to joining PHA.

PHA and Hyatt stressed that the menu changes involve giving consumers improved choices rather than mandating food consumption: "Hyatt Hotel’s offering of these healthy items will supplement menu items that include indulgences, which will continue to be offered," PHA said.

Kaiser Permanente corporation, one of the founding members of PHA, will "institute new guidelines in all 29 of its hospitals that offer maternal and child health services to help make breastfeeding a priority" by designating these as "Baby friendly" and changing protocols by January of 2013. New to Let's Move! for 2011 was a focus on very early childhood interventions for obesity, and Mrs. Obama has advocated breastfeeding. The Fresh Grocer, a Philadelphia-area grocery company, will build five new food markets in the mid-Atlantic region by 2016, in areas defined as food deserts, as part of Mrs. Obama's goal of eradicating all US food deserts by 2017.

Gavin noted that PHA will be "holding all the companies responsible." Companies working with PHA sign Memos of Understanding for their commitments, but there are no legal ramifications if the commitments are not actually fulfilled. "Every company that works with PHA is required to agree that PHA will monitor and report on progress toward their commitment," the foundation noted.

Gavin also announced the Healthy Kids Out of School initiative, a commitment by leading children's organizations to develop "three unified principles for nutrition and physical activity." These are detailed below.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation during the summit announced a $3 million commitment to provide capital for financing retail, production, processing and distribution of fresh food to reach lower-income communities in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans.

During the day, summit participants participated in workshops and roundtable discussions that were closed to press. Representatives from each entity announcing their commitments spoke to the summit participants during the morning plenary session.

Hyatt's Commitment...
The Hyatt commitment mirrors the commitment made by the Darden restaurant chain. Menus at all Hyatt hotels and resorts in the U.S. and Canada will "be enhanced using the most recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPlate federal guidance," according to Hyatt's press release. Changes to menus will be implemented at all restaurants managed by Hyatt in the U.S. and Canada as well as on menus for room service, catering, bars, lounges and pools, the company said.

Children's Menu Changes

*Offer a fruit or vegetable as the default side item with all children’s meals

*Make 8 oz. servings of nonfat or low-fat milk available with free refills. Promote milk or water prominently on the menu with other beverage options displayed less prominently

*Offer at least one children’s menu meal option that meets the MyPlate federal guidance: One to two servings of fruit and vegetables, a whole grain serving, a lean protein serving, and a low fat dairy (or dairy substitute) serving, which together have a nutrient composition equal to or less than 600 calories, 30 percent of total calories from fat, 10 percent total calories from saturated fat, 600 mg of sodium, and no more than 10 grams added sugar. Position and feature that meal as the first on the children’s menus.

*Ensure any food illustrations on children’s menus depict nutritious options, including milk or water as the beverage of choice if beverages are depicted.

General menus
*By 2016, reduce the calorie footprint by at least 10 percent across all food menus, with an endeavor to have at least 50 percent of U.S. Hyatt properties meeting this standard within three years

*By 2016, reduce the sodium content of its food by at least 10 percent across all food menus, with an endeavor to have at least 50 percent of U.S. Hyatt properties meeting this standard within three years

*By 2016, reduce the added sugar content of food by at least 10 percent across all food menus, with an endeavor to have at least 50 percent of U.S. Hyatt properties meeting this standard by within three years

*At least two healthy menu meal options will be equivalent to or lower in price than less healthy menu meal options. This pricing parity will appear on all menus by 2016, with an endeavor to have at least 50 percent of menus reflecting this change within three years.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Commitment...
The Foundation announced a $3 million commitment to provide capital for financing retail, production, processing and distribution of fresh food to reach lower-income communities in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans. The capital will be made available through the foundation’s mission-driven investment work in partnership with NCB Capital Impact (Capital Impact) of Arlington, Va., a Community Development Financial Institution.

Loans will be made to retailers and food enterprises that provide small and mid-sized producers with infrastructure – including processing, manufacturing and distribution operations – that help bring their products to local markets. Loans will be made available for a period of two years beginning in 2011.

Kaiser Permanente's Commitment...
*By January 1, 2013, all of Kaiser Permanente’s 29 hospitals that offer maternal and child health services will be designated as Baby-Friendly, and/or participate in the Joint Commission’s Perinatal Core Measures program, which requires participating hospitals to report their rates of exclusive breastfeeding at discharge.

*Kaiser Permanente will establish a system-wide performance improvement program focusing on the development and implementation of evidence-based hospital breastfeeding practices.

*Kaiser Permanente will develop and make publicly available a hospital breastfeeding practices guide that documents lessons learned and operational strategies that other systems can use to improve maternity care.

*To ensure accountability, Kaiser Permanente will include rates of exclusive breastfeeding at discharge as a core quality measure on its Quality Dashboard, which will be reviewed on a quarterly basis along with other hospital quality measures.

The Fresh Grocer's Commitment...
The Fresh Grocer will build five (5) grocery stores in or around areas in communities that lack access to healthy affordable foods. These stores will sell a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, meat and dairy products and will be similar in size and scope to The Fresh Grocer stores in operation in 2011. The new stores will open by 2016.

Mrs. Obama visited The Fresh Grocer in Philadelphia in 2009 to unveil the Healthy Food Financing Initative, a fund ostensibly from USDA, Treasury and Health and Human Services that would offer grocery corporations low-interest loans and tax credits in order to encourage building markets in food deserts. Congress failed to fund the Obama Administration's requests for $400 million funding in FY 2010 and FY 2011, and again declined to fund $330 million for FY 2012.

In September of 2011, the Treasury granted $24 million to food desert projects in nine states from its own dedicated funds.

Healthy Kids Out of School...
The summit also had an announcement by ChildObesity180, "an alliance of senior-level national leaders from relevant sectors – public, private, academic, and nonprofit – that have aligned to reverse the trend of childhood obesity." The Healthy Kids Out of School initiative worked with leading out-of-school-time (OST) organizations to develop "three unified principles for nutrition and physical activity."

The principles recommend serving water as the primary beverage; fruits and vegetables as the primary snack; and increasing opportunities for physical activity. The Healthy Kids Out of School initiative "will also develop a comprehensive implementation plan to connect OST organizations with the local resources needed to help adopt the principles."

Participating organizations include Boy Scouts of America, National 4-H Council, Girl Scouts of the USA, National Council of La Raza, National Council of Youth Sports, National Urban League, Pop Warner, US Youth Soccer, and YMCA of the USA.

"Collectively, these organizations have the potential to reach tens of millions of children annually," PHA said.

*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama