By Kate Barrett, Senior Manager of Community Affairs
At Campbell, supporting and nurturing our communities is core to who we are. We believe it is important to build healthy hometowns – and measure our performance against our goals.
A 10-year, $10 Million Commitment
Back in 2011, we launched an innovative initiative to measurably improve the health of young people in our hometown of Camden, N.J. The initiative is called Campbell’s Healthy Communities, and we focus on four areas that we believe make communities healthier: food access; physical activity; nutrition education; and public will.
Following the completion of our 8th year of this program, we’re proud to report on our progress in Camden.
Making healthy and affordable food accessible to all
A key example of how we’ve expanded access to nutritious food is our Healthy Corner Store Initiative. In partnership with The Food Trust, we’ve supported the establishment of healthy corner stores across Camden. In addition to offering fresh foods, many of these stores provide nutrition education, coupons, and other incentives to encourage residents to eat nutritious foods. With 44 healthy corner stores in 13 Camden neighborhoods, it’s the state’s largest citywide network of its type.
Key Results in Year 8: Food Access
83% of store owners that were surveyed reported an increase in sales of healthy food items. 99% of Heart Bucks (coupons redeemable for heart-heathy foods following in-store nutrition education lessons) were redeemed. Additionally, through our healthy corner store work and other food access initiatives such as in-school cafeteria tastings and after-school sports programs, over 130 new healthy food items were introduced to residents through our programs.
Helping kids stay active
At the start of our program, The Greater Philadelphia YMCA’s Soccer for Success program encompassed 50 kids in an after-school soccer program at one Camden charter school. Today, more than 900 kids per year play soccer, learn about nutrition and sports science, and enjoy family play events at more than 20 program sites throughout the city of Camden.
Key Results in Year 8: Physical Activity
Across our physical activity initiatives, 1,661 Camden residents participated this year. We helped create four new safe spaces to play in local parks and schools, and eight new opportunities for physical activity, including seven new Soccer for Success sites.
Teaching students and families about healthy eating
Through nutrition education and cafeteria tastings at the KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy (KIPP) Schools in Camden, we’re encouraging and enabling students to try new foods. Our partner organizations took over distribution of the U.S.D.A. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and used that opportunity to teach students about fruits and vegetables – and now the cafeterias are incorporating the produce into their menus.
Key Results in Year 8: Nutrition Education
The percentage of KIPP students participating in cafeteria tastings increased from 50% to 90% thanks to live cooking demos, complementary nutrition education, and effective role modeling by teachers. Across our nutrition education initiatives, 1,002 nutrition sessions were led, reaching 5,257 participants. That translates to 715,860 minutes of nutrition education delivered to residents so that they have a better understanding of how to make healthy food choices.
Working with residents to create a healthier Camden
By building public will, we are able to make a larger impact in Camden. Through our Camden Youth Advisory Council, we’re working with, and listening to, young people in Camden. The Council consists of High School students who are passionate about making positive change in their city and who advise our work. In year 8, the Council focused on the change they want to see in their schools, especially around school lunch across the district. They surveyed their classmates and presented their findings to district leadership, recommending improvements related to healthier food options, more student choice, and improved access to drinking water.
Key Results in Year 8: Public Will
1,500 young people joined leadership activities, events, or other group meetings related to Campbell’s Healthy Communities work. Overall, we hosted almost 200 events aimed at engaging the community in our work.
Leveraging Collective Impact
Clearly, we couldn’t do this alone. We believe that our commitment to working together magnifies our impact.
To date, our partners have leveraged our initial investments to raise more than $11 million of additional funding. Nearly 9,000 participants in almost 1,900 activities have logged a stunning 1,969,650 minutes of nutrition education and physical activity. That’s the power of collective impact, when diverse players join forces to address social problems on a larger scale.
It’s thanks to our partners – Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Center for Environmental Transformation, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Food Bank of South Jersey, FoodCorps, Greater Philadelphia YMCA, The Food Trust and Wellness in the Schools – that we can share the results featured in our Fiscal Year 2019 Campbell’s Healthy Communities Report.
We are deeply grateful to the individuals and organizations that have become key partners in Campbell’s Healthy Communities program – and especially to our Camden neighbors. We can’t wait to see what we accomplish together in 2020.