American Heart Association and North10 Philadelphia Collaborate to Increase Healthy Food Access for North Philadelphia Residents Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life. This can be a temporary situation for a household or can last a long time. Throughout the nation, about 12 percent of people are food insecure — lacking enough food in a year to lead a healthy life, according to data from Feeding America in Chicago, the largest hunger-relief nonprofit in the country. In Philadelphia, it’s 21 percent. In North Philadelphia, food insecurity runs as high as 30 percent1. In the Hunting-East Tioga neighborhood of North Philadelphia, 40% of families live in poverty, with 20% of residents living in extreme poverty. 70% of the Hunting-East Tioga population identifies as Black and 27% Hispanic2.
The AHA has partnered with North10 Philadelphia, a non-profit in the Hunting-East Tioga neighborhood of North Philadelphia that reaches over 1,750 community members monthly. North10 works to improve life outcomes for community members so current residents and future generations live happy, healthy, and civically engaged lives. North10 provides several services, including Out of School time youth and adult workforce development programs, food distribution and other community services, neighborhood strategic planning, and oversight of transformative capital projects. Additionally, North 10 is actively working to get healthy food into the hands of children, families and seniors who need it most. North10 provides food distribution via a hybrid of home delivery service and on-site distribution.
To expand their commitment to the community, North10 launched the 10th St. Community Market (3890 N 10th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140) in July 2021, a choice market, as part of their Lenfest Center renovation project. This resource provides free, nutritious groceries to families each week, while also serving as an entry point to a holistic array of programming for residents. At its core, the 10th St. Community Market goes beyond food availability, it is a conduit for connection and trust to the neighborhood. Research has shown that providing shoppers with the option to pick their own food provides them with a sense of dignity and ownership. Strengthening these values within the residents of Hunting Park-East Tioga lies at the heart of North10’s initiatives – working with the community, rather than for the community.
In 2020, the AHA in partnership with North10 implemented a food insecurity screen and referral process through their Adult Programs and Community Services team. This process helped connect disproportionately impacted families to much needed food resources, transforming the health of the community. Building on this foundation, the AHA supported the 10th Street Community Market by providing a new commercial size refrigerator to increase the markets capacity to store and serve fresh fruits and vegetables. The increased space will allow North10 to accept additional pallets of fresh produce from their established procurement partners Philabundance and SHARE Food Program.
Community members can now receive more produce during the regularly scheduled market visits and through deliveries to home-bound residents. Additionally, community members are receiving educational handouts on lifestyle modifications and recipes to support increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Through strong partnerships with a shared vision and mutual accountability, North10 works with our neighbors to help solve long-term problems. At times, that involves working to address short-term issues like food insecurity. Our partnership with AHA helps to ensure our neighbors have dignified access to healthy food options in the middle of a food desert, while also working to connect neighbors to other programs and services that address the social determinants of health. – Christopher D. Gale, Chief Program Officer and Center Director.
Theresa Spencer is award-winning communications strategist and public relations professional. She is a creative thinker and innovative in her approach to create collaborative opportunities for others and most importantly, can motivate people around her to turn their ideas into reality. I design and drive communications and branding strategies to advance the American Heart Association objectives, initiatives and programs.