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Tools of the Trade



Convincing restaurants and local retailers to offer healthy foods and beverages can be a daunting task but two great new toolkits offer help to folks looking to implement such initiatives in their communities.
The National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity (NPLAN), a project of Public Health Law and Policy (PHLP), released the toolkits last month to help people in the field with their efforts to encourage healthier restaurants and healthy food retail.
The first toolkit, “Putting Health on the Menu: A Toolkit for Creating Healthy Restaurant Programs,” shows people how to create incentives that encourage local restaurateurs to offer more nutritious meal options. Doing so is more important than ever before, as families now spend roughly
half of their food budgets eating outside of the home.
PHLP’s Christine Fry tells The Inside Track that the nonprofit worked with nutritionists and people who coordinated previous healthy restaurant initiatives to create a model program that communities can use as a starting point in their own efforts.  
PHLP recommends advocates work with their local health department to establish the program. But the toolkit also notes that it’s important for advocates to not just focus on pressuring restaurants to make positive nutritional changes; it’s important that they also help restaurants with implementation and provide promotional assistance.
Meanwhile, “Going for Greens: Finding Public Funding for Healthy Food Retail” provides ideas for advocates and policymakers looking for economic development funding for healthy food retail projects, such as farmers’ markets or corner stores that offer fresh fruits and vegetables.
“The first part provides tips for framing healthy food retail from an economic development perspective. We’ve found that economic development agencies do not think of healthy food retail as an economic development strategy,” explains Fry, a Leader. “Advocates must be persistent and creative when they pitch these projects to economic development staff.”
The toolkit also offers ideas for state and federal economic development funding sources, including examples of previous food-related projects that were funded by a particular program, Fry says.