Improving Access to Healthy Foods in the Puget Sound

Produce stands at market with various kinds of lettuce and signs.

Nearly half of Puget Sound region has low to no access to nutritious foods and far too many households struggle to put food on the table, relying on food banks and meal programs. By addressing food insecurity, we can help improve wellness and cardiovascular health in our community. An overall healthy dietary pattern is one of the keys to ideal cardiovascular health, and eating healthy meals is easier when families can afford nutritious foods such as fresh produce.

Did You Know?

  • Close to one million people in Washington receive SNAP (food assistance). Nearly 2/3 of all them are children, elderly and people with disabilities.
  • 268,000 kids in Puget Sound are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Making An Impact

Our work to improve food security and access to healthy foods include:

Food to Those Who Need It

We’re working with clinics to support fruit and vegetable prescription programs and replicating the model in community settings. Through strong coalition partnerships, we mobilize to meet the needs of those that are most vulnerable. For example, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic we worked with Food Innovation Network (link opens in new window)to provide hot meals to refugees and immigrants in South King County coupled with relevant health education.

News release:  'Heart Bucks' food vouchers available to qualified shoppers at Tukwila Village Farmers Market

Healthy Food Guidelines in Childcare

Childcare settings are an important environment for forming good health behaviors, attitudes and habits around children's dietary intake, physical activity, and energy balance. Together with our partners, the American Heart Association advocated for healthier nutrition guidelines for family home and center-based childcare providers, including the promotion of water and unflavored milk, increased fruits and vegetables in snacks, and support for breastfeeding mothers.

Healthy Default Drinks in Kids Meals

Our lives are busy and, more and more, we're grabbing a meal on the run or eating out. That’s why it’s so important that restaurants offer healthy food and beverage options – especially for children. The American Heart Association believes the healthy choice should be the default choice when it comes to drinks that accompany kids’ meals in restaurants. Learn more(link opens in new window)

WA Fruit & Vegetable Incentive Program

Thanks in part to support from organizations like the American Heart Association, the State Legislature in 2018 made an important first-ever investment in the Fruit and Vegetable Incentive Program(link opens in new window)(link opens in new window)(link opens in new window). This program provides greater access to healthy fruits and vegetables for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. When shopping at farmers’ markets and select retailers, SNAP participants can double their purchasing power for fruits and vegetables.

Seattle Sugary Beverage Tax

Sugary drinks are the number one source of added sugars in the American diet. People who consumer a greater percentage of their calories from added sugars are at a significantly higher risk of dying from heart disease. Sugary drinks taxes are proven to help reduce the consumption of sugary drinks, such as soda and sweetened iced teas.  Now that the tax is in place, we’re one of the community organizations making sure that revenue from the tax is funding food access programs in the city. In 2018, these programs served 45,000 children and adults. Here’s how some of the tax revenue is being used:

Get Involved

We need advocates(link opens in new window)(link opens in new window)(link opens in new window) for this work as well as individuals and organizations that we can work alongside for a healthier food environment. If you’d like to join with us to ensure three healthy meals a day for kids or to bring more fruits and vegetables to the tables of those who need it, contact us to discuss how we can collaborate.