Pittsburgh takes on Food Revolution

World-renowned chef and founder of the Food Revolution, Jamie Oliver, joined Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and leaders from the Pittsburgh community today to announce plans for Pittsburgh to embrace the Food Revolution. With One Young World – the premier global summit for young leaders in their 20s – also kicking off today in Pittsburgh, Jamie will inspire One Young World delegates and ambassadors as they work with community leaders to start a local Food Revolution. In Pittsburgh, local ambassadors will be tasked with monitoring and reporting on a number of goals for Pittsburgh to become a healthier, food-conscious city over the next year.

Recognizing that obesity levels are soaring in America, in part because today's children are growing up overweight and malnourished from a diet of processed foods, the Food Revolution seeks to educate individuals and families about what's in the food they're eating and encourages them to make better choices in their everyday lives. Jamie's ambition is to create a healthier world by prompting community leaders, businesses and schools to work together to promote food education and provide more families with access to great food. Pittsburgh is the first city to commit to a 12-month plan to kick-start a Food Revolution with six leaders stepping up to set and reach goals that will be included in an end-of-year report.

"While Pittsburgh has made significant progress with our local food movement, there is still work to be done. With Jamie as our inspiration, we are committed to working together to make Pittsburgh a healthier city – from ensuring that more of our schools have access to kitchens for fresh food preparation, to empowering families to make better, real food choices," says Luke Ravenstahl, Mayor of Pittsburgh. 

"In order for a true food revolution to take place, the entire community has to be involved. I am so proud of Pittsburgh for recognizing this need, and I fully support the Pittsburgh community and local leaders as they make these vital changes," says Jamie Oliver, founder of the Food Revolution.

During a press event, held at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden Edible Rooftop in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh, several leaders from the Pittsburgh community shared their goals for the coming year.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, on behalf of the City of Pittsburgh says throughout 2013, the City will aim to increase the number of farmers markets held within local communities, as well as the programs available to local schools regarding healthy choices and nutrition. The City is committed to creating new bikeways and trails that will connect more area neighborhoods to riverfronts – and get more people excited about exercising.

The City will also grow the Mayor's CityFit Wellness at Work initiative for approximately 3,000 city employees, encouraging them to become more physically fit and healthy. In 2012, employees enrolled in the City's Weight Watchers program lost a combined 2,000 pounds. The City is seeking to get more employees involved in this and other health-focused programs.

Scott Allshouse, President, Mid-Atlantic Region, Whole Foods Market: Whole Foods Market began over 30 years ago with the idea of making organic and healthy foods available to its shoppers. Whole Foods Market has deepened its commitment to our future generations through the Whole Kids Foundation, by assisting in getting more salad bars in schools, helping thousands of children. Last year, the school garden grant program was created, where money is granted to schools to educate kids on gardening through the planting of school gardens – a way to teach children an appreciation for food from seed to plate. In 2013, Whole Foods Market will remain committed to these efforts for our future generations' health and wellness. They will have their chefs visit area schools to teach fun ways to prepare healthy foods, as well as continue to give back to local communities, continue to sell the highest quality natural and organic products available in all of their stores, sell local products in their stores whenever possible, and have a continued evolution and commitment of their health starts here program.

Brooks Broadhurst, Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage, Eat'n Park Hospitality Group and Campaign Chairperson for fitUnited Pittsburgh: Through its LifeSmiles program, Eat'n Park is helping to provide access to healthy, affordable food and to increase physical activity in an effort to reduce childhood obesity. Eat'n Park is investing $1 million and 20,000 volunteer hours over the next few years to support health and wellness initiatives aimed at families. Eat'n Park is also committed to providing healthier menu choices. Founded in October 2012, the fitUnited program, through the United Way of Allegheny County, will provide caring adults with knowledge and tools to support healthy kids; encourage healthy eating through youth serving organizations; increase the awareness of how to choose and access healthy, affordable foods; and increase physical activity through play, sports and exercise. On Oct. 3, 2012, fitUnited issued a goal to have 100 partners – including businesses, non-profit agencies, health care and food industries, and local and professional sports teams – get on board within 100 days.

Michael Parkinson, M.D., Senior Medical Director of Health and Productivity, UPMC: In 2013, UPMC will ensure that healthy food options are available in all menus for UPMC employees, patients and visitors. The "Dining Smart" program will be deployed to all facilities and vending machines for 50,000+ employees, and promoted to all employers to improve worksite dining options and vending machine choices. UPMC will also provide healthy nutrition and weight management programs to insured members at no cost.

Richard V. Piacentini, Executive Director of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and Director of Let's Move Pittsburgh: Let's Move Pittsburgh will challenge Greater Pittsburgh families to sign a pledge aimed at increasing the number of meals they cook and eat together as a family, without the distraction of television and electronics. When participants sign the pledge, they will indicate how many meals they eat together now, and select a goal for the coming year. Let's Move Pittsburgh will stay in touch with participants throughout the year through regular e-communications, and will offer cooking demonstrations and other hands-on activities in collaboration with community organizations. Let's Move Pittsburgh also plans to host an outdoor farm-to-table dinner at Phipps for Food Revolution Day 2013 that features healthy, sustainably produced ingredients from local farms.

Carol Wooten, Superintendent, Propel Schools: In 2013, Propel Schools will increase its focus on education about healthy food choices and the My Plate Guidelines. The schools will task students with completing a food and activity record for three days at the beginning of the school year, and again at the end. By the end of the school year, at least 80% will meet their My Plate goals and by mid-year, 95% will understand the guideline. Propel Schools is also pledging to have students complete one hour of physical activity each day at school. Propel Schools will conduct a baseline assessment and activity record at the beginning of the year and will aim for a full hour or more of physical activity by the end of the year for 90% of the students.

Pittsburgh's plan to embrace the Food Revolution comes at a time when poor nutrition and childhood obesity remain huge threats for America. New research conducted by YouGov on behalf of One Young World reveals that 86 percent of young adults are concerned that growing levels of obesity in the US will lead to future health issues. These concerns are not unwarranted, with recent projections from Trust for America's Health indicating that more than half of all Americans in 39 states will be obese by the year 2030.