LOS ANGELES, July 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Continuing its commitment to increasing access to healthy fruits and vegetables in low-income communities, Kaiser Permanente is proud to be a founding member of the California FreshWorks Fund, a unique public-private partnership loan fund created to bring healthy food retail to underserved California communities. California FreshWorks Fund was among the models included in Michelle Obama's announcement today on bringing healthy food choices to communities across the United States.
With a Kaiser Permanente physician participating in the White House announcement today, Kaiser Permanente announced its contribution of $1 million in grant funding to California FreshWorks Fund, which will bring greater access to healthy foods in low-income, underserved communities; spur economic development that supports healthy communities; and inspire innovation in healthy food retailing.
"Children often have easy access to convenience store snacks and to fast food, which leads to poor health and considerable weight gain," said Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center pediatrician Amy Porter, MD, who was invited to The White House for today's announcement. "The availability of healthy foods where we live does influence what we choose to eat, which can affect the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and other weight-related illnesses." Dr. Porter leads Kaiser Permanente's Pediatric Weight Management Initiative in Southern California, which identifies, prevents, and treats childhood obesity through clinical interventions and community-based programs.
In California, an estimated 1.7 million residents live in low-income areas that lack access to a supermarket within one mile of their home. This situation makes fast food and highly processed foods from corner stores a more convenient, affordable alternative. Health policy and health advocacy can help eliminate this inequity. Specifically, the California FreshWorks Fund will support the renovation and expansion of existing stores so they can provide the healthier options that communities need and want. The Fund also provides start-up loans and grants for supermarkets, corner stores, co-ops and farmers markets that agree to promote healthy foods and pursue other health and social benefits.
"Kaiser Permanente is committed to improving the total health of the communities where our members, physicians and employees live and work," said Raymond J. Baxter, PhD, senior vice president for Community Benefit, Research and Healthy Policy at Kaiser Permanente. "Our grant to the California FreshWorks Fund supports our philosophy of making the healthy choice the easy choice by changing the environment and supporting healthy behavior."
Since 2003, Kaiser Permanente, one of America's leading health providers and not-for-profit health plans, has been bringing fresh fruits and vegetables into urban areas through its pioneering farmers market programs, offering healthy foods outside its medical centers. Today, Kaiser Permanente operates or sponsors 40 markets in six states and the District of Columbia. This innovative concept has brought locally grown fresh foods to thousands of Kaiser Permanente members and community residents.
In addition, Kaiser Permanente has committed more than $50 million in grants since that time to build healthy communities where residents have more access to safe and healthy environments, walking trails, public transit and nutritious foods, all which lead to healthier lifestyles.
The California Endowment developed the California FreshWorks Fund concept and provided significant financial support to the Fund. California FreshWorks Fund partners include the California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, United Grocers, California Grocers Association, PolicyLink, Community Health Councils, CRA/LA, NCB Capital Impact, NCB, FSB, Emerging Markets, Inc., Calvert Foundation, Catholic Healthcare West, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, US Bank and Bank of America.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.8 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.
Note: Kaiser Permanente experts Amy Porter, MD and Ray Baxter, PhD are available for interviews.
SOURCE Kaiser Permanente