Wholesome Wave Georgia and the American Heart Association advocating to increase access to healthy, locally grown food

According to data from Feeding America, 11.3% of Fulton County and 10.5% of DeKalb County residents – two of Georgia’s most populous counties – are nutrition insecure. This means that over 180,000 people across both counties are struggling to get enough food or have to make the difficult decision between putting food on their family’s table or paying for other basic needs. 

Lack of access to healthy, fresh food is an economic issue and a modifiable social determinant of health with substantial impacts on health and well-being across a lifespan. To address this issue, Wholesome Wave Georgia and the American Heart Association have teamed up to help increase access to healthy, locally grown food through the Grow the Good initiative. Grow the Good seeks to increase funding that will allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to double their purchasing power for fresh food and produce when shopping at local farmers markets and fresh food stands around the city.

“Across the City of Atlanta, Wholesome Wave Georgia’s SNAP doubling program, Georgia Fresh for Less helps nutrition insecure families to put fresh, healthy locally grown food on their kitchen tables,” said Will Sellers, Executive Director of Wholesome Wave Georgia. “Our nonprofit’s collaboration with the American Heart Association amplifies our work to help more of our neighbors feel empowered to make healthy food choices and live healthier lives.”  

The Grow the Good initiative also creates a pathway to grow the economy, especially for local businesses. For every $5 spent on SNAP Incentives, about $9 in economic activity is generated. SNAP incentive programs like Georgia Fresh for Less also help generate healthier City of Atlanta and Fulton County residents by improving public health. On average, low-income adults participating in SNAP incur nearly 25% less in medical care costs.

“We know that individuals who are nutrition insecure are at a higher risk of negative health outcomes and health disparities so, it is imperative that we work collaboratively with organizations like Wholesome Wave Georgia who are working directly with farmers and markets to increase access to fresh, healthy, and locally grown fruits and vegetables,” said Carla Smith, Senior Vice President, and Executive Director of the American Heart Association in Atlanta. “We are incredibly grateful to work alongside them to champion this issue and create a healthier community as well as fuel the economic growth across the city of Atlanta.”

Another key component of the Grow the Good initiative is Wholesome Wave Georgia’s Community Healthy Food Access Coalition, a focus group of Atlanta SNAP recipients willing to share their stories and experiences trying to use SNAP for healthy food purchases.

“Nutrition security requires an end-to-end community approach at all levels of the food cycle, from this collaboration to our local farmers and ultimately the Atlanta community,” said Mike Rouse, Community Food Ambassador for the American Heart Association and Wholesome Wave Georgia. “Our community building work focuses on holding space for Atlantans to share a lived experience with SNAP and find ways to make fresh, healthy food choices a priority.”

Anyone in Atlanta can help Grow the Good. Visit yourethecureatl.com/growthegoodatl to find more information and ways to get involved. 

About the American Heart Association:

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health, and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect at heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

About Wholesome Wave Georgia:

Wholesome Wave Georgia is a statewide nonprofit that connects food-insecure Georgians with fresh healthy food choices through partnerships with local farms, markets, and community partners. We also offer free SNAP assistance in person and over the phone including screenings, enrollments, and renewals. Connect at wholesomewavega.org, 404-551-5996, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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