City of Philadelphia Designated A Green Power Community By EPA, Challenges Washington D.C. Government

Philadelphia, June 20, 2012 – The City of Philadelphia has been designated a Green Power Community by the Environmental Protection Agency, demonstrating the City’s tremendous success in calling on residents, businesses, and institutions to partner with the City in leading the way in renewable energy use.  As the fifth largest city in theU.S.,Philadelphia is the largest municipality to receive the Green Power Communities designation, which requires that at least 3% of the city’s energy use be generated from renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, and low-impact hydropower.


“When I came into office, I pledged to makePhiladelphiathe greenest city inAmerica, and as the largest city to be designated a Green Power Community, we are well on our way,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Choosing electricity from renewable resources like solar panels and wind turbines gives us the power we need to grow, but also to support job creation, to cut carbon emissions, and to bring additional clean, renewable resources online inAmerica. Using green power is a smart choice for our environment and for our economy.”


EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin said, “As EPA’s largest Green Power Community, Philadelphia is among only a handful of local governments that have met or exceeded their pledges to our nation’s clean energy future by purchasing green, renewable power. I commend Mayor Michael Nutter for his continuous pursuit of numerous, practical ways to makePhiladelphiaa model green city.”


Philadelphians purchase nearly 600 million kWh of renewable energy each year.  This is equivalent to planting nearly 10.5 million tree seedlings grown for 10 years or taking 80,000 passenger cars off the road.  This renewable energy usage also represents more than 4 percent of the electricity purchased by all users inPhiladelphia. currently the largest municipal buyer of green power. Mayor Nutter announced a challenge toWashington’s status. “I challenge Mayor Gray andWashingtonD.C.becausePhiladelphiais going to become the #1 city for in the purchase of green power,” said Mayor Nutter.


“I welcome this challenge from Mayor Nutter, and congratulate the City ofBrotherly Loveon its commitment to green power.  TheDistrict of Columbiaentered the Green Power Communities program last year at #1 and I’m seizing this opportunity to renew my challenge to our residents, businesses and institutions to stay on top.  I’m all for healthy competition, especially when it involves investing in clean, renewable power—so I say, ‘bring it on!” said Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.


In 2006,Philadelphiajoined EPA’s Green Power Partnership, a launching pad for becoming a Green Power Community.  As part ofPhiladelphia’s Greenworks plan, the City pledges that by 2015, twenty percent of the electricity used inPhiladelphiawill come from alternative energy sources.  The city’s municipal operations have already met this goal, using more than 127 million kilowatt-hours of green power, including generating solar electricity onsite at the city-owned Southeast Water Pollution Control facility.


“The Office of Transportation and Utilities manages the procurement of electricity for the City, and we are committed to purchasing green power,” said Rina Cutler, Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities. “As a City government we continue to focus on becoming more energy efficient while also diversifying our energy supply to include more renewable sources of energy. Clearly Philadelphia residents and businesses are doing the same, and we’re grateful to be recognized today by the EPA for our efforts.”


Philadelphiaorganizations and businesses, including members of the Philadelphia Green Power Community Collaborative, are actively committed to helpingPhiladelphiamaintain its standing as a leading Green Power Community and increase its use of renewable energy.  Members of the Philadelphia Green Power Community include: the City of Philadelphia, PennFuture, the Clean Air Council, the University City Neighborhood Association, Clean Currents, Community Energy, the Energy Cooperative, EverPower, Renewable Choice, Sterling Planet, Washington Gas Energy Services, and the EPA.


More information on EPA’s Green Power

More information on EPA’s Green Power Partnership

Philadelphia’s Green Power Community

Green power providers in Pennsylvania:


Mayor Nutter Announces Philadelphia as Recipient Of Tiger IV Grant From US Department of Transportation

Philadelphia, June 19, 2012 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that Philadelphia has been named a recipient of a TIGER IV Grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The $12.8 million award will be used to refurbish the SEPTA Wayne Junction Substation though a partnership between the City, SEPTA and PENNDOT. The station was built in 1930 and is in need of repair.

“These federal funds will create good-paying jobs and improve the City’s mass transit system – a double win for Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “I am grateful to President Obama, Secretary LaHood, Senator Casey and our entire Congressional delegation for their support. The U.S. Department of Transportation recognized the power of a multi-agency partnership to address the state of good repair challenges facing Philadelphia and the region. We are endowed with great transit and bridge infrastructure and this grant will ensure it works well for decades to come.”

The grant will improve infrastructure that supports travel for 28 million vehicle trips and 35 million transit trips per year. A station failure would result in lost service to six regional rail train lines that carry nearly 17.5 million trips per year (60,000 trips per day) into Center City. This announcement marks the fourth time that the City of Philadelphia has applied and been awarded a TIGER Grant to improve infrastructure.

“Bringing infrastructure into a sustainable state of good repair creates jobs, supports economic growth and saves money on costly repairs in the long run,” Senator Bob Casey said. “I fought for this grant to ensure that safe, reliable transportation is available for the Pennsylvania residents and businesses that depend on it.”

Congresswoman Allyson Schwarz said “A robust 21st century transportation and infrastructure system is paramount to our region. I fought for this TIGER grant because of its tremendous potential to strengthen our local economy by creating jobs in the short term and leading to improved commutes and more reliable transportation. The modernization of the 80-year old Wayne Junction substation and 11 area bridges is vitally important, and this grant is a major win for Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania.”

Congressman Chaka Fattah said, “The Wayne Junction Substation in Nicetown is critical to SEPTA’s commuter rail power grid. Like so much of our nation’s infrastructure, this 1920’s-era substation is long past its prime and in desperate need of replacement. This project will bring jobs to North Philadelphia, improved service to SEPTA riders, and it will advance a neighborhood resurgence that includes last year’s dedication of dramatic improvements to North Philadelphia/Wayne Junction Station itself. I wrote Secretary Ray LaHood advocating for this grant and I’ve been fighting for these infrastructure projects as a major element in President Obama’s jobs program, which our economy and our communities desperately need.”

SEPTA Director Joe Casey said, “I am extremely grateful for the hard work of everyone who made this application to improve mobility in the city a success. This was truly a team effort. The Wayne Junction Substation is one of SEPTA’s most critical power distribution facilities, supplying electricity to six SEPTA Regional Rail Lines. I am pleased that funds from this TIGER grant will be going to replace equipment that has been in continuous use since the 1920s and is well past its useful life. This will improve service and reliability for millions of riders annually.”

Mayor Nutter Releases Greenworks Philadelphia Update and 2012 Programs Report

Philadelphia, June 18, 2012 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability released the Greenworks Philadelphia Update and 2012 Progress Report, marking the midway point in the plan’s goal for Philadelphia to be the greenest city in America by 2015. Of the 167 initiatives put forth in Greenworks, 38 initiatives are complete, and 110 are currently underway. For the first time, this year’s progress report features metrics for each of the plan’s measurable targets. Progress toward two thirds of the targets is on track, and two of the target goals, Targets 7 and 9, are exceeding expectations. Target 7 is to divert 70% of solid waste from landfill; the City has exceeded that and is now aiming higher. Target 9 was to provide Park and Recreation resources within 10 minutes of 75 % of residents; the City accomplished that and now is aiming to provide walkable access to Park and Recreation Resources for all residents.

“I am proud to say that Philadelphia has made significant progress in our goal to become America’s greenest city. I hope that other cities can learn from our experiences and build off of them,” said Mayor Nutter. “Philadelphia would not be where it is now without the many partners in the public and private sectors who want to see a cleaner, greener and healthier city. Katherine Gajewski and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability have demonstrated strong leadership on this issue.”

Highlights on current progress include:
• A reduction of municipal energy use by 5%;
• A more than tripled rate for curbside residential recycling;
• Increased access to healthy, affordable food for more than 200,000 Philadelphians;
• 428 miles of bike lanes completed

“We are proud to share our progress in implementing the Greenworks Philadelphia plan,” said Gajewski, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “Equally important, however, is the process. With this report we strive to provide numbers and data along with insight into the experience and lessons learned along the way. Our success so far can be attributed to the many partners within and beyond city government who have embraced the Greenworks goals and are playing a leadership role in driving them forward.”

Some of the new initiatives include:
• Benchmarking large City facilities in order to evaluate City government energy consumption;
• Developing a climate adaptation plan that will address specific vulnerabilities and strategies to deal with climate change; and
• Conducting a regional clean economy survey every two years to track trends and outcomes in the clean economy

Mayor Nutter also announced that the City of Philadelphia in partnership with PhillyCarShare now has the nation’s largest publicly accessible fleet of American-made electric vehicles. The City of Philadelphia, through a grant received from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, supported the installation of 20 electric vehicle chargers throughout the city. These changes allowed Philly Car Share to add 20 Chevy Volts to its fleet and provide two chargers to the public. The new fleet of electric vehicles allows the more than 10,000 members of Philly Car Share, a division of Enterprise Holdings, access to cutting edge alternative fuel vehicles that are fun to drive and average 100 miles per gallon equivalent.

The full Greenworks Philadelphia Update and 2012 Progress Report can be found at

Mayor Nutter and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Open City’s Only Bike Rental Service In Fairmount Park

Philadelphia, June 12, 2012 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy hosted a grand opening ceremony for Wheel Fun Rentals, the only bike rental service in the city’s park system. Wheel Fun Rentals, America’s premier recreation rental company, is working with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation to offer a unique variety of cycles, including locally based Fuji hybrid two-wheels, surrey bikes, tandem bikes, deuce coupe bikes and Segways. Residents and visitors can access Wheel Fun Rentals in three locations throughout the Fairmount Park system: Lloyd Hall on Boathouse Row, Love Park and the Bathey House/Trolley Car Café in East Falls.

“Philadelphia loves our cyclists and we want to encourage as many as possible – novice or expert – to come and experience the amenities we offer to the cycling community,” said Mayor Nutter. “In addition to installing more than three hundred and fifty new bike racks across the city and continuing to add bike lanes to our streets, we are excited to welcome Wheel Fun Rentals to the Fairmount Park system. Cycling is a great way to run errands, tour the city or just recreate in the park; all of which help add a little physical activity into busy schedules. I encourage every Philadelphian to take advantage of the rental possibilities offered by Wheel Fun.”

Proceeds from Wheel Fun Rentals benefit Philadelphia’s parks. Through concession fees, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation anticipates that the service will bring in $50,000 annually that will go toward park and trail renovations and projects along the Schuylkill River Trail and Kelly drive as well as other projects led by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy.

“This partnership with Wheel Fun Rentals and the Fairmount Park Conservancy will provide Philadelphians and visitors with a variety of fun and unique ways to experience our beautiful park system,” said Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources, Michael DiBerardinis. “The partnership has also created an additional revenue stream, which will be used to maintain our park system”

Wheel Fun Rentals is providing nearly a dozen jobs to local residents and summer jobs for students, tying into the Mayor’s Fun Safe Philly Summer initiative. The company is employing teens from the Neighborhood Bike Works program, a local nonprofit that aims to increase opportunities for urban youth in underserved neighborhoods in greater Philadelphia by offering educational, recreational, and career-building opportunities through bicycling. The teens will be able to apply what they learn through the Neighborhood Bike Works program in their jobs at Wheel Fun Rentals. Wheel Fun Rentals also employs students with the Philadelphia City Rowing program.

“Wheel Fun Rentals is very excited about the opportunity to bring our unique brand of family fun to Philadelphia visitors of all ages,” said Mark Soto, Wheel Fun Rentals Director of Operations. “We specialize in providing affordable outdoor recreation that brings people and families together. We also look to be an active part of the local community through our alliances with such organizations as Neighborhood Bike Works and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania.”

Wheel Fun Rentals is open seven days a week. Summer hours (June-Labor Day) are 9 a.m. to sunset. In the fall (Labor Day-October), Wheel Fun Rentals will be open Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10 a.m. to sunset. Wheel Fun Rentals inventory and pricing includes:
Cruiser Bikes: $10/hour $25/half day $32/day
City Bikes: $12/hour $30/half day $38/day
Tandems – Multi Speed: $15/hour $40/half day $50/day
Kids Bikes: $6/hour $15/half day $20/day
Trail-a-Bikes: $6/hour $15/half day $20/day
Kid Trailer: $10/hour $25/half day $32/day
Single Surrey: $20/hour
Double Surrey: $30/hour
Deuce Coupe: $20/hour
Pricing for Segway tours can be found here:

Residents and visitors can enjoy self-guided bike tours of Old City Philadelphia and Fairmount Park. The self-guided bike tours include a route map, points of interest, historical information, helmet and lock. The Old City Tour is 11.5 miles round trip and will take bikers past numerous museums, lavish gardens and intricate architecture and many landmarks including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The U.S. Mint., Independence State Park, Penn’s Landing and The Betsy Ross House. The Fairmount Park Tour is 11.5 miles round trip and will take bikers past Lemon Hill Mansion, the Philadelphia Zoo, the Please Touch Museum and more.

With more than 100 rental outlets across the United States, Wheel Fun Rentals has been offering clean, healthy family fun and affordable outdoor recreation to nearly 1.5 million customers annually for more than 20 years. Philadelphia is the company’s first foray into the Northeast. Wheel Fun Rentals is the only recreational cycling opportunity in Philadelphia’s park system. For more information about Wheel Fun Rentals, please visit


Philadelphia, June 6, 2012 – On May 31, 2012, the City of Philadelphia, through the Philadelphia Municipal Authority, completed the sale of its City Agreement Revenue Bonds, Series 2012A and Series 2012B (Federally Taxable Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds) totaling approximately $12.6 million. Proceeds from the bonds will fund implementation of energy efficiency upgrades at Philadelphia’s City Hall, Justice Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice, Municipal Service Building and One Parkway. The project is a major step toward achieving the goal of reducing City government energy consumption by 30% by 2015 as outlined in Greenworks Philadelphia, the City’s comprehensive sustainability plan.

“The City of Philadelphia is committed to a sustainable future, and important projects like this show that the City is leading by example,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “This project reduces our long-term energy consumption, creates new opportunities for businesses, improves City facilities, and saves money which we can use in other areas of need.”

The project uses $6.25 million of the City’s allotment of Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs), tax credit bonds that qualify for an interest rate subsidy from the federal government. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocated $15 million of QECBs to the City of Philadelphia for funding qualified conservation projects. The 2012 bonds benefited from improving market reception of the City’s credit, and received favorable interest rates, resulting in a true interest cost (net of Federal subsidy) of 2.31% for the 15-year bonds.

The project is being completed under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Guaranteed Energy Savings Act (GESA) program. The act allows municipalities to contract with energy service companies (ESCOs) that guarantee energy efficiency upgrade project savings and commit to pay the difference if actual energy savings fall short of expected savings. The City of Philadelphia contracted with NORESCO, an ESCO, to perform energy audits on targeted buildings and install energy conservation measures (ECMs). The energy savings achieved will more than pay for the energy efficiency improvements, with the energy savings expected to exceed net bond debt service by more than $10.2 million over the life of the transaction.

The City plans to install ECMs, including lighting replacements, control system upgrades, and water conservation improvements, among others. The upgrades will reduce energy usage in the four buildings by approximately 20%, increase human comfort, reduce the immediate capital needs of the facilities, and make the facilities easier to operate. The project’s Economic Opportunity Plan contains aggressive minority, women, and disabled owned business participation rates.

For more information on Greenworks Philadelphia, visit


Philadelphia, June 7,, 2012– Today, Mayor Michael A. Nutter delivered a keynote address at the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Inaugural National Soda Summit. Check remarks against delivery. The speech follows:

“I want to thank the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) for hosting the Inaugural National Soda Summit.

I also want to thank Dr. Michael Jacobson, the Director of CSPI.

For those of you who do not know me, I am Michael Nutter, serving my second term as Mayor of Philadelphia – my hometown. I was born and raised in West Philadelphia.

I am dedicated to making Philadelphia a better city – to me that means being a greener, cleaner, safer and healthier city.

I try to live by example. I eat right, exercise and enjoy things in moderation.

As a politician, my approach to public health has been all-inclusive. Public health is about education, public safety, prevention and intervention, and sustainable green efforts.

As a Councilman, I organized a public hearing on childhood obesity. I saw this as an opportunity to prevent adult obesity as four out of five overweight children grow up to be obese adults.

As Mayor, I have worked to make Philadelphia a more walkable and bikeable city. In 2008, I issued a Complete Street Executive Order, instructing all City agencies to consider the needs of not just motorists, but also pedestrians and cyclists. We now have 20 new miles of bike lanes and a bike and pedestrian plan encompassing the entire city. Not to mention, we are the number one big city for bicycle commuting in the U.S.

I spent 15 years serving as a Councilman for the 4th District of Philadelphia. As a Councilman, I spent 6 years committed to fighting for a smoke-free Philadelphia.

Initially, the bar and restaurant industry was adamantly against the smoking ban. Citizens were opposed to it. Twice it stalled in Council. But after six long years, it passed and was signed into law, prohibiting smoking in all public places. I consider the Clean Indoor Air Worker Protection Act one of my greatest achievements.

In Philadelphia, smoking related complications are the leading cause of death. Diseases related to poor nutrition and physical inactivity are second behind smoking.

The truth is simple – obesity is an epidemic.

Over the last three decades, obesity rates have tripled.

In America, two-thirds of adults and a third of children are now overweight or obese.

In Philadelphia, two-thirds of adults and 40% of children are overweight or obese.

In some Philadelphia neighborhoods, more than half of children are overweight or obese.

African American children in Philadelphia have a 15% higher prevalence of obesity than white children in Philadelphia. Hispanic children are 25% more likely than white children to be overweight or obese.

Nearly half of all African American adults have high blood pressure and 20% have diabetes in Philadelphia.

Nationally, obesity is responsible for an estimated $73.1 billion in loss of productivity for the American workforce. In Philadelphia alone, obesity leads to the loss of $1 billion annually in productivity for Philadelphia businesses.

Sugar sweetened beverages are not solely responsible for obesity rates in America. But we can’t deny the two are connected or as the social scientists might say “correlated.”

Sugary drinks, like soda, fruit drinks and sweetened teas, are the single largest sources of sugar in the American diet.

On average, Americans drink 20 oz. of soda a day. At 250 calories per 20 oz. soda that means the average American is drinking an extra 25 pounds a year in soda alone.

Philadelphians consume about 60 million gallons of sugar sweetened beverages each year. That’s a half a liter per day per person.

Children in Philadelphia drink one to two sugary drinks per day on average with African American children consuming significantly more than white children.

These facts clearly show the connection between sugary drinks and weight gain.

Sugary drinks have absolutely no nutritional value. They are empty calories that don’t make you feel full. It might taste good, but it isn’t good for you.

Sugary drinks can even distort the taste preferences of children, making less sweet foods and beverages less appealing.

The question is – who is culpable?

The answer is far more complicated than the question.

Soda companies are not forcing average Americans to buy and drink massive quantities of their product. But the soda industry isn’t being entirely honest with its customers either.

Simply put, local, state and federal governments across the country are fighting a tough battle against Big Soda. Big Soda has more money, more lobbyists and more opportunities to turn people on to their product.

How many commercials for brussel sprouts do you see? How many commercials for soda do you see? Not only are sugary drinks cheap but they are heavily marketed to kids and people of color.

The biggest spender on lobbyists in Philadelphia for the first quarter this year was Big Soda. They outspent any other lobbying group by six times. While their budgets continue to be large – ours is shrinking.

Mayors function at street level, living and working with the citizens who employ them. No one knows what is best for a community more than the public servants who work every day to make life better.

That’s why Mayors across the country and I have proposed taxes or new regulations on sugar sweetened beverages. We need a multi-pronged approach to decrease sugary drinks consumption. Education, taxation, and increased access to healthier options have to all be a part of the discussion.

Just last week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 oz. His ban would limit large sugary drinks being sold at food service establishments, like fast food restaurants, sports arenas or deli’s. The ban wouldn’t apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based products or beverages with no more than 25 calories per 8 oz. serving.

It’s a bold strategy and is worth evaluating and considering. Studies have shown that people eat what is served to them. Perhaps, if offered smaller portions people would consume less. The problem, which Mayor Bloomberg has clearly noted, is that ridiculously large portions have become the norm – 20 or 24 oz. sugary drinks are common.

Richmond, California has proposed a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. In November, it will appear on the ballot. The tax could influence the choices made by Richmond residents to pick healthier beverages.

These legislative measures send a clear message to soda companies that government is placing a higher value on the health of its citizens.

During my 2010 budget address, I proposed a sugar-sweetened beverage tax of two-cents-per-ounce for the first time. My hope was to impose a tax on retailers based on annual sales volume.

We anticipated the tax would generate $77 million annually which we could use to fund a concentrated health initiative geared toward combating obesity.

Keeping in mind my six year effort for smoke-free legislation, we came close to passage that year.

In 2011, with Philadelphia’s School District facing a significant budget shortfall, I reintroduced the sugar-sweetened beverage tax. At two-cents-per-ounce, this time on distributors, we believed it would close the budget gap.

Each time we introduced the sugar-sweetened beverage tax, we faced determined opposition from the beverage industry.

Our struggle centered on trying to garner public support and Council votes for the tax– but ultimately, the tax proposals didn’t pass.

We did benefit, nonetheless. We were able to raise awareness about the connections between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity. We created a dialogue about the tough decisions that have to be made to protect the health of our children and productivity of our workforce.

We also saw that powerful interests would not sit back when the status quo is threatened.

The soda industry has three main arguments against the enforcement of a sugar-sweetened beverage tax:

Soda has not been conclusively connected to a rise in obesity rates.

The point remains moot. But no one will argue that soda has a nutritional benefit or that the extra calories sugary beverages inject into the American diet turn into extra pounds over time.

A sugar-sweetened beverage tax or large-serving soda ban negatively affects the personal liberties of low-income individuals.

The government is not trying to legislate individual preference for soda or sugary drinks. Instead, governments want to create and promote policies that encourage citizens to make conscious and well-informed decisions about the health impact of what they are buying for themselves, their families and children.

The purpose of increasing the price is not to gouge lower income families, the purpose is to make people reconsider the cost of what they consume and be informed enough to decide if it is worth it.

By putting a soda tax into effect, people will consume less product resulting in layoffs by the soda industry and increasing unemployment.

Delivery trucks will still need drivers and packaging plants will still need workers, whether it is for 5,000 cases of soda or 5,000 cases of water or 5,000 cases of low-sugar or no-sugar products. People will still be thirsty and drinks will still need to be delivered and will still be sold and bought.

This is a specious scare-tactic that has had impact only because of the weakened economy we have been experiencing.

After the first soda tax failed, Philadelphia’s need for a health initiative that would address the staggering obesity rates remains.

In 2010, Philadelphia received $15 million in funding from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention over two years to reduce obesity by increasing physical activity and promoting healthy eating.

With that funding, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health started the “Get Healthy Philly Initiative”, a multi-sector initiative to address obesity through both policy and systems changes. Over the last two years, we have been able to accomplish a lot with Get Healthy Philly.

We’ve created healthier schools in partnership with the School District. 171 schools serving 100,000 students have created Wellness Councils to put healthy policies into practice.

More than 90 schools have replaced candy bars with healthy foods.

Schools have also implemented classroom movement breaks to get kids moving around during the day.

We’re also concentrating on afterschool programs. For the first time, food and fitness standards have been developed for 300 after-school programs effecting more than 20,000 low-income students.

Also through Get Healthy Philly, we’ve encouraged people to decrease their consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages. We’re making sure that adults, especially parents, understand the risk of high calorie snacks and sugary beverages to themselves AND their children.

And our Menu Labeling Law gives Philadelphians critical information about calories, salt, fat and carbs while they are making choices. Nearly 40% of customers have said this information leads them to make healthier decisions.

Philly Food Bucks provides low-income Philadelphians with the opportunity to let their dollars last longer. If you use Food Stamps at more than 25 participating Philadelphia farmers’ markets, you can receive a $2 Philly Food Bucks coupon for every $5 you spend. The Philly Food Bucks program has helped increased SNAP redemption at farmers markets by 400%.

And by leveraging federal dollars, we’re providing healthier and tastier meals to 3,000 children every day in recreation centers through the USDA Supper program.

Last summer, we served 2.8 million meals to approximately 90,000 young people across the City with the Summer Food Service Program. This program guarantees young people 18 and younger will receive nutritious breakfast, lunch and snacks all summer long for free.

Get Healthy Philly initiatives are not the only ways we are attempting to combat obesity in Philadelphia. We have implemented the:

The Food Trust, Reinvestment Fund and Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition partnered with the Commonwealth to bring supermarkets to low-income urban and rural communities.

We’re created a Healthy Corner Store Network, providing incentives, training and marketing support to 630 corner stores and refrigerated shelving in 100 stores.

Overall, the Fresh Food Financing Initiatives have provided funding for 88 fresh food retail projects in 34 Pennsylvania counties.

This has created or preserved 5,000 jobs and improved access to healthy food for more than a half million people.

Philadelphia has also done some work specifically to address mass consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Since 1999, all public schools that serve primarily low-income families provide comprehensive nutrition education.

Since 2004, the School District banned the sale of all sodas and sugary drinks in school vending machines. Schools discontinued the use of fryers and switched to low-fat milk in 2009.

We’ve made 260 vending machines healthier in municipal buildings. Our vending machines offer more water and non-caloric drinks, put healthy options at eye level, limit portion sizes of sugary drinks, and provide calorie labeling on each machine. Eight other large employers in the city have followed our lead, affecting the choices of 100,000 employees working in Philadelphia.

As a part of Get Healthy Philly, we have launched a mass media campaign to educate citizens about the links between sugary drinks, weight gain and diabetes. This media campaign is primarily aimed at caregivers to help address obesity in our young people and has been viewed 15 million times.

Unfortunately, our original federal funding will run out soon. Luckily, many of the programs and policy changes we have implemented are sustainable without additional funding AND have a long-lasting impact on the people of Philadelphia.

Moving forward, we have secured a $7.5 million over five years grant from the CDC to continue our obesity reduction strategies. In conjunction with that grant, I have committed $2 million of new funding for obesity prevention and tobacco control in the FY13 budget.

In 1964, the Surgeon General’s office released a report called ‘Smoking and Health.’

This report outlined the health risks associated with smoking and in the years since, we have learned more about smoking and second-hand smoke and the health risks associated with both.

After 40 years of warnings about the dangers of smoking, many people were outraged when we decided to ban smoking in public buildings, city-owned outdoor areas, bars and restaurants.

Other cities have also enacted similar legislation, experiencing great push back from the tobacco industry, some restaurants and bars, and the public.

But years later, the number of new smokers is down, smoking rates are down and the tobacco industry hasn’t collapse. Smokers may not have liked the regulations initially but they learned to adjust.

We know the health risks associated with obesity: high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and more.

I understand that correlation is one thing, causality is quite another. That’s why I am calling for the same kind of report on sugar-sweetened beverages as the Surgeon General and the CDC has undertook on tobacco – a comprehensive study of what effects sugary drinks have on the body.

As a community, Philadelphia has a problem with obesity. From the statistics, so do most other American cities. I believe that sugar-sweetened beverages are a major contributor to the obesity problem in America. Luckily for us, it is a problem that we can do something about.

Taxes can play a role in adjusting consumer choices. Mayor Bloomberg’s idea of a serving-size ban could help reduce consumption.

With either approach, one thing is very clear: we need more powerful and definitive scientific-based information that can explain, with minimal doubt, how we as a nation have gotten to this point. To what extent is diet responsible for obesity? What role does sugary drinks play in that? How responsible is the sedentary lifestyle we live for obesity?

In the 19th and early 20th century, we were a nation that used our muscle to shape the landscape of our country and we changed the world. Today, we are a nation stuck in a fight over healthcare costs and coverage, living inactive lives and growing more overweight with every passing year.

We have no idea how much the choices we are making will cost us, our children and our grandchildren. We need to act before it is too late.”