Food & Fitness: Lessons Learned for Funders

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Communities face issues that are complex, affect diverse stakeholders who hold conflicting perspectives, involve historical systems, and have long delays between the time action is taken and results of the actions become obvious. In order to improve outcomes some funders have begun to shift their priorities to support systems change, rather than activities or programs that address discrete short-term needs and problems. In 2007, W.K. Kellogg Foundation funded Food & Fitness, a 9-year initiative designed to address the then-emerging concerns about childhood obesity and health inequities from a system perspective. Funded partnerships in communities with inequities across the United States created community-based approaches to increase access to locally grown food and healthy places for physical activity. This 9-year systems change initiative provided a unique opportunity to document lessons that can inform funders and communities seeking to create places that will support the health of children and families, as well as those leading other systems change initiatives.

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