Campbell’s Soup takes on hunger and obesity in Camden

    Camden residents got a taste of good news. Campbell’s Soup is making a major investment in the ailing city that has been the company’s home since 1869. 

    (Photos by Elizabeth Fiedler/WHYY reporter)

    Camden New Jersey residents got a taste of good news.  Campbell’s Soup is making a major investment in the ailing city that has been the company’s home since 1869.  

    Obesity rates for children ages three to 19 in Camden are nearly 40 percent, eight points higher than the national average.

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    Campbell Soup Company plans to invest $10 million over ten years with the goal of reducing childhood obesity and hunger in Camden’s 23,000 children by 50 percent.  

    Campbell’s President and CEO Douglas Conant said it makes sense to focus on obesity and hunger,

    “Typically a hungry child is at risk of being obese,” said Conant.  “When a child does not know when their next meal is coming from, they eat as much as possible of whatever is available.  Camden’s children are hungry and it’s the hunger that can lead to obesity.”

    Conant said Campbell’s wants to help expand the food that is available to Camden’s families by: supporting the development of a major supermarket in Camden; funding in- and after-school activities to promote physical activity; and helping convert abandoned lots into productive urban gardens.

    Camden Mayor Dana Redd said  the city’s residents need to get healthier for themselves — and for the city’s future.

     “Unfortunately, obese children get a head start on health problems such as diabetes and heart disease,” she said. “Often carrying these problems in their adult lives and furthering other complications that will not lead to productive or healthy lifestyles

    Nearly all Camden’s school-age children are enrolled in free school breakfast and lunch programs.

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