A recent survey of over 400 New Haven residents shows that more than eight in ten respondents (83%) favor a local policy that would ensure healthier food and beverage options are available at workplaces and public places. Nine in ten (91%) of the respondents favor resources being dedicated to building or improving stores, or establishing farmer’s markets or mobile markets in underserved neighborhoods in order to offer healthier foods such as fruits and vegetables. The July 2016 survey conducted by Baselice & Associates, Inc. was commissioned by the American Heart Association’s Accelerating National Community Health Outcomes through Reinforcing (ANCHOR) Partnerships Program. It is part of an overall initiative to improve access to healthy foods in underserved communities.
The American Heart Association recently released its nationwide “+color” campaign which aims to increase both the availability and consumer demand for fresh fruits and vegetables. Its key message is this: By adding more fruits and vegetables every day, you’ve made a simple but significant step to building a healthier, longer life. “The health impact of this one change alone is significant: it could save 39,900 lives and $7.6 billion in medical costs each year,” stated Sandra Bulmer, Central CT AHA board member and Dean, School of Health and Human Services,
Southern Connecticut State University.
The New Haven poll revealed a number of noteworthy findings from resident comments on healthy food access:
- 92% believe community leaders should take steps to make sure everyone has access to healthy foods.
- 91% of those surveyed favor healthier food and beverage options available in public places to benefit children visiting public buildings.
- 89% support increasing the number of farmers’ markets or mobile markets where people can use nutrition assistance benefits such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), sometimes called food stamps, by providing support and incentives for operators to set up programs that process food stamp payments.
- A majority of men ages 18-54 along with residents living in the central area of the city strongly favor initiatives that would help people in the community who cannot get healthy foods because there are not enough stores that sell healthy foods in their neighborhood.
Joy Johannes, New Haven’s Food System Policy Director, stated, “New Haven has an active food community, and the food activists have done great work over the past several years. This is an exciting time for the City as we update the Food Action Plan to include sectors of the food process that need to be addressed. The “Food For All: Envisioning Our Future” event held on September 24th allows us to move forward in response to public input to help build capacity and create a system in which everyone has access to adequate food and everyone enjoys a healthy diet.”
A few key findings of this survey can be incorporated in a Food Action Plan update to indicate opportunities favored by a majority of respondents:
- Local government and employers should lead by example by offering more healthy food and beverage options in vending machines and meals served in cafeterias.
- Policies that encourage healthier foods and beverages may save taxpayers money in health care costs.
The ANCHOR Project is a federally funded collaboration between the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The focus of the ANCHOR project is to improve access to healthy foods through the promotion of farmers markets, healthy food financing initiatives with businesses and community organizations, and encouraging healthful food and beverage contract arrangements and policies within worksites and institutions. When healthy food and beverage options are available and affordable, healthy food choices become the easy choice.
For more information on the American Heart Association’s ANCHOR Partnerships Program, go to www.heart.org/ANCHOR. This work was made possible with funding from the CDC. The results do not necessarily represent the views of CDC.