April 26, 2024

More than half a million dollars awarded to five cities with African American mayors to promote nutrition access, affordability and education

(WASHINGTON) – The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) and the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America (ABFHA) today named five cities with African American mayors as recipients of significant grants to advance essential programs that improve community health. Winning cities were announced during the African American Mayors Association National Conference in Washington, D.C., April 24-27.

ABFHA and AAMA awarded the five grants totaling $600,000 to cities in different population categories. In the large-sized city category, the city of Baltimore will receive a $200,000 grant. Mid-sized cities Little Rock, Ark., and Richmond, Va., will each receive grants of $125,000 and two grants of $75,000 have been awarded to Mount Vernon, N.Y. and North Miami, Fla., in the small-sized city category. This is the second year of a three-year commitment between ABFHA and AAMA to award grants to cities. 

Mayors in the selected cities will apply the funds towards vital resources such as community gardens, food pantries, produce distribution and family healthy cooking classes. These funds will help attract additional investments for the nutrition issues these cities are facing.

One-third of America’s biggest cities are led by African American mayors, leaders who best understand what their communities need and how to achieve results.

“This is an exciting grant opportunity for these cities that will allow them to expand their existing programs and launch new healthy food and nutrition programs for their residents,” said Phyllis Dickerson, CEO of the African American Mayors Association. “We are honored to again partner with The American Beverage Association to address the issue of food insecurity and strengthen the health of our communities.”

Funds from the program are targeted for city programs that demonstrate measurable progress in several areas, including increasing access to affordable basic nutrition needs and educational components that help market the program to a mayor’s community; providing community outreach or help educate citizens about the benefits of the program; attracting matching grants or other investment dollars.

  • Baltimore plans to apply its funding to the Baltimore City Produce Box Distribution Program, the first of its kind in Maryland, created in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides a 15-pound box of fresh regionally grown produce to Baltimore City residents in Health Food Priority Areas. The Produce Box Distribution Program is unique in the way it partners with the 100 plus community organizations that help to distribute produce at scale. 
  • The city of Little Rock, Ark., will expand garden initiatives to its community schools and innovate nutrition education around school garden programs and launch FoodCorps sites at schools that do not have a school garden focus heavily on nutrition and include farmers as guest speakers and virtual garden and farm visits. It will also partner with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Public Health and Culinary Medicine Programs to offer family cooking classes led by a registered dietitian.
  • In Richmond, Va., funds will go towards the launch of a Richmond School Garden Fund to make garden education available to every Title I school in Richmond through Greater Richmond Fit4Kids, a regional non-profit organization whose mission is to improve children’s health and wellness through physical activity and healthy eating.
  • Mount Vernon, N.Y. will use its funds to implement comprehensive community engagement programs that focus on health education, nutritional awareness, and initiatives to make fresh, healthy food more accessible, including organizing potluck events, health screenings, cooking competitions and educational sessions on shopping for healthy and economical food choices.
  • North Miami, Fla. will help to increase food storage capacity and provide adequate food for residents in need of food delivery service as part of its NoMi Food Pantry. It plans to expand the physical space of the pantry as well as rent a monthly refrigeration truck to increase the amount of fresh produce delivered to residents throughout the community.

America’s beverage companies are offering more choices with less sugar than ever before as part of an intentional strategy to support families in their efforts to lead healthier lifestyles. This effort is working to reduce the sugar people get from beverages. Today, nearly 60% of all beverages sold have zero sugar. The beverage industry has also voluntarily removed full-calorie beverages from schools, leading to a 94% reduction in beverage calories in schools. 

“Mayors are the problem solvers, the leaders who spend every day working on ways to better their communities. The people who make up America’s beverage companies live, work and contribute to your cities and towns. We want to partner with you to help build healthy, strong communities,” said Kevin Keane, president and CEO of American Beverage.

“We are honored to work with the African American Mayors Association and support mayors’ efforts to expand innovative initiatives that improve their communities and create a better future for all.”

Grant winners were selected by a panel of judges composed of former mayors chosen by AAMA. 

Interviews/video packages of grant recipients can be accessed here.