GlaxoSmithKline awards $5 million grant to promote healthier lifestyles in Philadelphia

On Thursday morning, it was a party at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

There was a DJ, the Randolph High School cheer squad danced, and Mayor Michael Nutter enjoyed a healthy breakfast burrito.

The cause for celebration, of course, was a group of 10 area non-profits known collectively as Get Hype Philly – whose aim is to get local kids eating well and exercising – was awarded a $5 million dollar grant to continue its community outreach efforts.

The money comes from local pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline’s IMPACT grant fund, and will be spread out over three years. The Philadelphia Foundation will help administer the award.

“Not only will Get Hype Philly make our young people healthier, it will also help them to lead their peers, their families and their communities to make their neighborhoods a model of a happy, healthy and thriving environment,” said Donna Altenpohl, Vice President of Public Policy at GSK.

The Food Trust is one of the non-profit partners of Get Hype Philly and will serve at the backbone organization, collaborating with all the collective partners.

Yael Lehmann is The Food Trust’s Executive Director, and said groups combined efforts will include programs like more farmers markets, improved food in corner stores, and teaching kids out to cook and eat healthy at places like the Free Library, which offers a culinary center.

“A lot of these programs are proven, they’ve been around a long time, and we know they work,” said Lehmann. “We’re not reinventing the wheel here. We’re going to be able to continue the great work we’re doing, but it’s going to be twice as powerful cause we’re going to do it all as a collective unit.”

Rania Campbell-Cobb is a program manager with Greener Partners, another of the collective 10 involved in Get Hype Philly, which focuses on sustainable food farming and education.

“We’re really excited to expand the program and work with other partnerships,” said Campbell-Cobb.

Mayor Nutter also stopped by the event to congratulate Get Hype Philly and thank GSK, then afterward stepped into the kitchen for a taste of what students from Randolph High School’s culinary program were cooking: healthy sausage, egg and cheese burritos for the event.

“That’s a good burrito,” said Nutter, his mouth full.

The Food Trust sponsors the culinary program at Randolph, called Culinary Voice, which introduces students to cooking, using healthy ingredients.

“A lot of people think high school kids don’t really want to do anything,” said Michael Bell, a culinary arts instructor at Randolph. “This is pretty much an example of the opposite being true. These kids volunteer, they stay after school, they come early, and they do extra things just to be in school, and in these particular culinary classes.”

Get Hype Philly estimates that it could reach 50,000 middle and high school kids over the next three years with the new infusion of money.

“It’s really going to improve issues related to nutrition, obesity, and just healthier choices that young people can make and quite frankly, young people help to influence all the food choices that go on in their homes,” said Nutter. “As a parent, I certainly know that.”

GlaxoSmithKline is a supporter of WHYY and the main funder of our WHYY Afterschool program.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal