Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 was a year of extraordinary growth and exciting new extensions of the core initiatives of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. As this report outlines, the Alliance made enormous progress in activating four key societal systems -- schools, out-of-school time programs, healthcare and the food and beverage industry -- to create healthier environments for our nation’s children. None of this success would have been possible without the support of an amazing group of people who make possible, and benefit from, the Alliance’s evidence-based model of change. From students to CEOs, their personal stories and connection to our cause are highlighted throughout this report and inspire us all to keep building a healthier generation.
You will read how the Alliance’s work directly impacted more than 20 million children, with a strong focus on reaching low-income and minority populations. More than 6,000 schools enrolled in the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program this year, by far the largest number for one year in the Program’s nine year history. More than 2.8 million children had access to healthcare benefits for the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity through a network of 56,000 healthcare providers. Millions more young people benefited from expanded access to healthy, affordable food and beverage choices that resulted from agreements negotiated by the Alliance with the corporate sector.
One of the highlights of FY 2014 was the dramatic growth in our Healthy Out-of-School Time Initiative. The number of community sites participating doubled and will grow exponentially over the next few years thanks to new national partnerships with two of the largest providers of out-of-school time programs: the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the National Recreation and Park Association. These two amazing partners will work with the Alliance to ensure that 5.5 million young people, through 6,300 out-of-school time sites, will have access to healthier foods and increased opportunities for physical activity outside of the school day.
Another highlight was the Alliance’s first agreement with a corporation to improve the nutrition environment for children in restaurants. Our global agreement with McDonalds, the world’s largest restaurant chain, will increase customers’ access to fruits and vegetables and help families and children to make healthier choices in the United States and in their top 20 markets worldwide --representing 85% of their total sales.
The Alliance was successful in bringing its program model into new settings, or expanding its work in communities that reach the children at greatest need. We are helping schools on military bases and in communities disproportionately affected by obesity, such as the Navajo Nation, to become healthier places. And we launched an innovative pilot project to help juvenile justice centers, which house young people at exceptionally high risk for unhealthy habits, support healthy eating and physical activity behaviors.
One last observation about the organization’s extraordinary impact in FY 2014: The Alliance played a critical role in influencing national school nutrition policies by sharing inspirational success stories and introducing new tools, such as the Alliance Product Calculator, that provide invaluable support to implementation of the new federal school nutrition standards. Through our technical assistance to schools, out-of-school time programs, and healthcare providers, and through our powerful influence on public and corporate policies, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation is making this nation a healthier place for our children.
For the first time in three decades, rates of child obesity have started to drop in at least one age group; modest declines have been seen in obesity rates among children between the ages of 2 and 5. While this is encouraging, no progress has yet been seen in national data among older children, and any progress made to date with these younger children is extremely fragile. Much more dramatic progress in our fight against childhood obesity will need to be achieved to avoid catastrophic public health and economic consequences. To see meaningful and lasting improvements, we will need to double down on our efforts to make the settings in which children live, learn and play healthier places. The Alliance’s accomplishments for FY 2014 show that we are on the right track. With your continued support, we can reduce the current high rates of child obesity and give our children a world of good health.
With sincere gratitude,
Chief Executive Officer