The Philadelphia Department of Public Health received a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish Get Healthy Philly. One focus of the program is preventing obesity by increasing access to healthy, affordable foods. Get Health Philly, in partnership with The Food Trust, opened four farmers markets in underserved neighborhoods during the 2010 season and plans to open an additional six in 2011. Through Philly Food Bucks, SNAP beneficiaries get $2 of free produce for every $5 of food stamp benefits spent at over 20 participating farmers markets. This initiative increased food stamp redemption at markets by over 120%.
Get Health Philly has recruited over 500 corner stores into the Healthy Corner Store Initiative. Three hundred fifty of the participating stores have added at least two new healthy products, and 16 stores received new shelving and refrigeration for produce and other perishables. Get Healthy Philly is recruiting operators for 20 pilot healthy carts, mobile carts that sell fruits and vegetables in low-income Philadelphia communities with little-to-no access to this type of produce. The carts will receive free small business training, licensing fee waivers, marketing assistance, and Electronic Benefits Transfer machines.
In addition to supporting the creation of retail access to fresh food, the City is also supporting local production. In 2011, the Department of Public Property began leasing previously vacant land at 27th and Master Streets in Brewerytown to Marathon Farm. The farm sells organic produce to neighbors at an affordable farm stand, supplies ingredients to Marathon Restaurants, and educates residents about gardening. City agencies are exploring opportunities to further support urban agriculture on City-owned properties. The Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council, appointed by Mayor Nutter in 2011, will advise the City more broadly on how to be a productive partner in the regional food system.