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Philadelphia-based ShopRite owner Jeff Brown was recognized during President Obama’s first-ever State of the Union address yesterday for the strides he has made in bringing supermarkets to impoverished urban areas.
As one of 26 invited guests of First Lady Michelle Obama to sit in box seats in the House of Representatives during the President’s address, the founder, president and CEO of the 10-store, Bellmawr, N.J.-based Brown’s Super Stores, Inc., is a fourth-generation grocer and an active participant of Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI), a program that combines state and private money to improve access to healthy, affordable food and nutrition information.
State Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Phila.) — who played a key role in the inception of the FFFI — introduced Brown to White House officials last summer during a visit to City of Brotherly Love and Brown’s Parkside ShopRite supermarket in west Philadelphia.
Brown’s appearance with Mrs. Obama during the State of the Union address is part of an administration-wide initiative that will have a budget and a legislative component to address childhood obesity and nutrition. The First Lady earlier this month called on the nation’s mayors to do their part in combating child obesity, a problem she called an epidemic and an economic threat.
During her speech to a group of 250 mayors at the National Conference of Mayors in Washington, Mrs. Obama said, “Ultimately, it’s going to take all of us — businesses and nonprofits, community centers and health centers, teachers and faith leaders, coaches and parents, and particularly all of you, our nation’s mayors — all working together to help families make commonsense changes so our kids can get, and stay, healthy.”
Noting that she would be willing to testify before Congress during school lunch legislation hearings later this year, Mrs. Obama has established four major goals of her healthy children’s-eating initiative: increasing the number of “healthy schools,” providing more opportunities for kids to be active, ensuring that affordable and healthy food are more available, and making sure that parents have nutrition facts.