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First Lady Michelle Obama made a visit to one of The Fresh Grocer’s stores, at Progress Plaza in Philadelphia, last week to publicize her “Let’s Move!” campaign to reduce childhood obesity nationwide
“Let’s Move!” focuses on four key points: giving parents the support they need to make better food choices, providing healthier food in schools, helping kids become more physically active, and making healthy, affordable food available in every part of the United States.
Accompanied by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, the First Lady stressed during her visit to store that without the fourth element, the initiative won’t be able to succeed, which explains why the Obama administration has approved the $400 million Healthy Food Financing Initiative to bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved urban and rural communities.
The White House’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative is modeled after the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, a community revitalization program championed by State Rep. Dwight Evans that increases the number of supermarkets in lower-income areas across the state.
“What Pennsylvania has shown us is, if we provide the right incentives, people will invest in these neighborhoods,” said Mrs. Obama. “We want to replicate your success in Pennsylvania all over America.”
The 15-million Fresh Grocer at Progress Plaza that Mrs. Obama toured was financed in part by funding from the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, as well as by other city, state and federal support. Prior to the store’s debut in December 2009, the North Philadelphia neighborhood where the store now stands was without a supermarket for over a decade. Mrs. Obama said she was impressed with the store, and commended The Fresh Grocer and the organization’s president and CEO for their efforts.
“This is one of the proudest moments of my life to have the first lady standing behind my mission,” said Patrick J. Burns, president and CEO of The Fresh Grocer, which is based in Drexel Hill, Pa. “She’s a mom. She food shops. She gets it.”
Obama toured the store with Burns by her side pointing out features unique to The Fresh Grocer, including the new “Kids Corner” located in the prepared foods department. The brightly colored kid-friendly area is dedicated to promoting healthy eating. Selections include a variety of nutritious snacks and lunches for youngsters.
The First Lady also stopped by the hot foods department, the salad bar and the expansive produce department, and even picked up a strawberry banana smoothie at the smoothie bar.
The Fresh Grocer has 10 locations operating in the greater Philadelphia area, with seven stores located within the city of Philadelphia.