Partnership for a Healthier America

Partnership for a Healthier America

First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Let's Move campaign against childhood obesity on February 9, 2010. That same day the organization of the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) was also announced. PHA was organized to support the Let's Move campaign by “encouraging, tracking, and communicating commitments to healthier lifestyles from partner organizations.”1

As an independent and nonpartisan organization, the Partnership for a Healthier America facilitates collaboration between private and government sectors in developing strategies for solving the childhood obesity problem. Once commitments are made with PHA, they track and report publicly all progress or lack of progress to hold the partner organizations accountable.2 Another key function of PHA is to identify the best, innovative programs so they can replicate them throughout America.3

The Partnership for a Healthier America has five goals: to develop a strong network of leaders who commit to impactful and measurable strategies; to gather members annually to “affirm, align, and announce” commitments; to promote understanding of how healthy food, physical activity, and environment affect childhood obesity; to transparently measure and evaluate the commitments made; and to efficiently connect potential partners.4

On that day, Mrs. Obama also announced that she was to be the honorary Chair and that Larry Kocot was the interim leader. She commended the founding organizations: The California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, Nemours, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which was working with the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation.5 In addition, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP gave operational and legal support while the Brookings Institute assisted with thought leadership.6

Two months later, the Democrat and Republican Honorary Vice Chairs were announced: the former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Dr. James R. Gavin, III was named Chairman of the newly appointed eight member board. Toni Yancey, an advocate for being physically active, was one of the board members appointed.7

In January 2011, Lawrence A. Soler was hired to be PHA's President and CEO. Seven months later, in July, PHA announced a major agreement with six companies and the California Endowment's FreshWorks Fund to bring healthy, affordable food to nearly 10 million people over the next five years. Walgreens, SUPERVALU, Walmart, Calhoun Enterprises, and Brown's Super Stores signed commitments to provide grocery stores in areas where healthy food choices are not currently available. These stores will also provide jobs in those areas. The FreshWorks Fund agreed to provide $200 million in financing for “new, independent retail channels and innovative food distribution programs in California.”8

The groundwork for these agreements was laid by the Policy Link, the Reinvestment Fund, the Food Marketing Institute, and the National Grocers Association. Additionally Jeff Brown of the Brown's Super Stores founded the nonprofit foundation UpLift Solutions to assist grocery owners and governments in overcoming barriers in opening stores in underserved areas.9

These commitments will be tracked, assessed, and publicly reported annually in order to make sure these agreements move “beyond the rhetoric and deliver on an implicit promise we make to our children.”10

Also in July of 2011, PHA acknowledged McDonald's announcement that they will begin to offer improved nutrition choices. They noted that every step toward “making the healthy choice an easy choice” is helpful.11 They also acknowledged the National Restaurant Association's Kids LiveWell Program, which is a voluntary program in collaboration with Healthy Dining, where restaurants offer at least one healthy and affordable children's menu item.12

  • 1. Bryan, Clifford. “Michelle Obama announces chairs partnership for healthy America.” Michelle Obama Examiner. < > 5 Aug. 2011.
  • 2. “First Lady Michelle Obama will Serve as Honorary Chair of the Partnership for a Healthier America.” Alliance for a Healthier Generation. < > 14 Aug. 2011.
  • 3. Op.cit., Bryan.
  • 4. “About the PHA: Fact Sheet.” A Healthier America. < > 5 Aug. 2011.
  • 5. Op.cit., “First Lady Michelle Obama.”
  • 6. Op.cit., “About the PHA: Fact Sheet.”
  • 7. “Partnership for a Healthier America Expands Leadership, Naming Board of Directors and Honorary Vice Chairs.” Business Wire. < > 5 Aug. 2011.
  • 8. “Foundation News: Remarks of Dr. James R. Gavin, III, on Food Access Commitments, as Prepared for Delivery.” A Healthier America. < > 5 Aug. 2011.
  • 9. Ibid.
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. “Foundation News: PHA Notes McDonald's Steps Towards Improving Menu, Nutrition.” A Healthier America. < > 5 Aug. 2011.
  • 12. “Foundation News: PHA Recognizes National Restaurant Association for Taking Steps Towards Improving Kids' Menus.” A Healthier America. < > 5 Aug. 2011.