In February, Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States and DC Central Kitchen were selected as one of three winning partnerships in the Healthy Environment category of the inaugural Healthy10 Award, presented by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. DCCK and Kaiser Permanente, the region’s largest non-profit health care provider, have been partnering for years to bring healthier food to all residents of the District.
The Healthy10 Awards are part of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health Means Business Campaign, which recognizes cross-sector collaboration between American businesses and their partners, who together strive to improve community wellness through greater economic opportunity.
This award recognized our joint work on Healthy Corners, a pioneering DC Central Kitchen venture that is sustainably expanding healthy food access in DC’s food deserts. DCCK delivers fresh produce and healthy snacks to corner stores in DC’s low-income communities, offering produce to corner stores at wholesale prices and in smaller quantities than a conventional distributor. The stores then sell the produce at below-market prices, making it an affordable option for the consumer. Instead of just giving away food, this innovative program has demonstrated significant demand in low-income communities for fresh, affordable food options in corner stores.
Initially launched in 2011 with financial and technical support from Kaiser Permanente, Healthy Corners exists to create more equitable access to healthy and local food options for residents of Wards 5, 7, and 8 – the District of Columbia’s three identified ‘food deserts’ – and develop and enhance new best practices for promoting healthy behaviors among at-risk children and families. Kaiser Permanente also helped us forge critical partnerships with the government of the District of Columbia to fully leverage existing policies promoting public health and small business development in support of Healthy Corners. Since that time, DC Central Kitchen and Kaiser Permanente have partnered together to develop and scale this innovative approach in underserved food desert communities through the Healthy Corners program.
“This award is particularly meaningful for us at Kaiser Permanente because it recognizes the commitment we share with DC Central Kitchen to improving the health of the communities we serve,” said Maritha Gay, Executive Director of External Affairs and Community Benefit for Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States. “We thank DC Central Kitchen for being outstanding partners in total health, and we thank the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Robert Wood Foundation for recognizing this effort to bring healthy food to underserved communities.”
Unlike some charitable solutions to improve healthy food access, Healthy Corners isn’t a giveaway. Rather than hand-outs of free food, the Healthy Corners program puts healthy, local food for sale in underserved neighborhoods, and through relevant outreach and marketing, empowers residents to eat and shop in healthier ways where they live, learn, and play.