Pear in Mind: A blog in the public interest

CSPI “sat down” (virtually) with Public Health Advocates to learn more about the organization's work around building healthier retail environments in California. This blog is the third in a series of posts highlighting our campaign partner organizations. 

Can you share a bit about the communities you serve? 

Public Health Advocates brings a public health lens to today’s most pressing problems, helping communities pass laws, reform systems, and establish norms that foster justice, equity, and health. Our work spans across California and beyond, with a focus on communities of color and historically underinvested communities.

Established in 1999, Public Health Advocates' mission is to promote health equity by helping cities, counties, and states become places that nurture health and well-being for everyone. We conduct strategic research to identify and publicize health disparities, partner with communities to organize state and local campaigns, and help advance policies that address the underlying causes of those disparities. Some of these challenges include the impact of the COVID pandemic, childhood trauma, homelessness, and access to healthy food, among other critical issues that disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color.

For our Healthy Retail Campaign, we are partnering with Cultiva La Salud in Fresno, community residents in Stockton, and Love 4 Life Association in Perris. Our campaign helps to reduce the burden of chronic disease disparities in underinvested communities and communities of color by working closely with city leaders and community stakeholders to adopt healthy retail policies. In the three communities throughout California, PHAdvocates staff and partners are educating residents, store owners, and city officials on the harmful effects of junk food and sugary drinks and the importance of improving retail environments by adopting evidence-based policies that create healthier norms.

What are some of your key organizational accomplishments? 

We have helped more than 350 cities enact 700 health policies, and we have led groundbreaking statewide campaigns getting soda and junk food out of schools, putting calorie information on restaurant menus, making diabetes prevention available to low-income Californians, and funding a new statewide childhood trauma prevention campaign.

How does your healthy retail campaign relate to your mission/vision and support the community you serve? 

PHAdvocates has been working to increase access to healthier foods and beverages since our inception, sponsoring and crafting numerous pieces of legislation that impose a tax on sugary beverages, set nutrition guidelines for food and beverages sold and offered in municipal youth facilities and programs, and remove sugary beverages as a default option in restaurants kids’ meals.

With our current Healthy Options at Checkout campaign, we see another great opportunity to create a movement among businesses and local governments and put an end to the predatory practices of junk food companies who market unhealthy foods in checkout aisles of retail stores. 

What most are you looking forward to in this partnership with CSPI?

We’ve long admired the amazing work CSPI does at the national level. The thing we’re most excited about in working with CSPI for this upcoming grant cycle is to tap into their vast network of staff, partner advocates, subcontractors, and resources spread throughout the country. We don’t often get to tell the story of lesser-known California communities like Perris, Stockton, and Fresno. With CSPI’s support and a little luck, we’ll be able to share the stories of these communities on a national stage. 

What’s the best way for people to get involved in your campaign or work? 

Please visit our website at or follow us on social media:

Facebook: @PHAdvocates

Twitter: @WeArePHA

Instagram: @wearephadvocates

LinkedIn: Public Health Advocates