This is more like it! Here is an example of an insurance company making an investment in the health of Americans by helping improve access to fresh, locally grown food.

From PR Newswire:

Wholesome Wave will expand farmers market programs to eight new locations nationwide.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn., March 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Wholesome Wave, a Connecticut-based, national nonprofit organization dedicated to nourishing neighborhoods across America by increasing access to and affordability of healthy, fresh locally grown food, announced today that it has received a $600,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente. The funding will be used primarily to support its Double Value Coupon Program (DVCP), which provides fresh food incentives to encourage low-income consumers to increase their purchase of nutritious produce through local farmers markets.

Wholesome Wave plans to initially expand the DVCP to a minimum of four new states nationwide. The program enables households that use federally funded Food Stamp or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) coupons to double the value of their grocery coupons when purchasing fresh produce at a farmers market. The Wholesome Wave program is in place at 160 farmers markets in 20 states nationwide.

Funding for the grant is a result of Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente's employee wellness program, Healthy Workforce, through which the nonprofit organization contributed $50 for each employee who took a health risk assessment. Almost 23,000 Kaiser Permanente employees participated in the program. The organization raised $1.2 million overall, which is being distributed to Wholesome Wave and the Washington D.C.-based National Assembly for School-Based Health Care.

"We at Wholesome Wave are so grateful for Kaiser Permanente's support, which is allowing us to take these next, vitally important steps towards increasing the accessibility of nutritious foods throughout America's food-insecure communities," said Michel Nischan, president and founder, Wholesome Wave. "Wholesome Wave and Kaiser Permanente have a shared mission of building a healthier future, and this generous partnership will allow Wholesome Wave to nourish neighborhoods across America."

The grant also will enable Wholesome Wave to plan for an expansion of its Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx). This program aims to bridge the gap between physicians providing advice in the clinical setting and changing individual behavior by providing "prescription coupons" that can be redeemed at the patient's local farmers market.

"Access to healthy food is powerful prevention, and that's what Wholesome Wave is all about," said Loel Solomon, Ph.D., vice president for community health, Kaiser Permanente. "This partnership makes so much sense because we have such closely aligned values and aspirations. We both believe that everyone deserves access to healthy, affordable and sustainably grown food and we both know how important that is for people's health, and the health of our planet."

Kaiser Permanente is one of the nation's leading health care organizations, with 36 hospitals and 8.7 million members nationwide. Through Kaiser Permanente's Healthy Eating/Active Living initiative, the organization works to bring healthy food to the communities it serves, with a particular focus on underserved communities with health disparities. These efforts include working with community groups and store owners to bring healthy food into corner stores, and partnering with schools, city parks and other organizations to offer healthier foods to young people and their families. The first health care organization to hold farmers markets at its hospitals, Kaiser Permanente now hosts 40 markets at facilities in four states.

Wholesome Wave's programming generated more than $1 million in sales at farmers markets through their incentives in 2010, which directly impacted income of more than 1,700 local farmers and more than 700 local product makers throughout the United States.

TK: You have to love the way that "Wholesome Wave" is selling the idea to expand access to fresh and local food. It is a case of enlightened self-interest.

Who are these guys? They haven't cracked The Packer library yet but Wholesome Wave sounds like a productive, purposeful group aligned with the goals of fresh produce growers.

From their 2007 IRS 990 form (they received revenues of $294,000 that year), he group describes itself this way:


TK: Why can't the "commercial" produce industry create a foundation that accomplishes many of the same outcomes as  "Wholesome Wave"?