Susan Foerster, Chief, Network for a Healthy California, California Department of Public Health
Susan Foerster received her BS and MPH degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Her work began in Boston where she coordinated nutrition services in the Allston-Brighton neighborhoods. She joined the California Department of Health in 1973 with Licensing and Certification and was promoted to lead nutrition development for adult health in 1976. She worked in aging, hypertension, diabetes control, health promotion and cancer prevention. Her experience starting large initiatives began in 1988 with the California 5 a Day—for Better Health! Campaign. Adopted by the federal government and the nation’s fruit and vegetable industry in 1991, the National 5 A Day Program has been emulated by at least 25 countries. In 1996, she started the California Nutrition Network for Healthy, Active Families, now the largest state social marketing network of the USDA Food Stamp Program. She continued spinning off the Children’s 5 a Day—Power Play! Campaign, the Latino 5 a Day Campaign, the California African American Campaign, along with retail and worksite initiatives. Her team of over 100 highly skilled professionals is rebranding these initiatives as the Network for a Healthy California—Champions for Change.
The Network helps 7 million low-income parents and children eat more fruits and vegetables, get daily physical activity, and increase the availability of healthy, fresh food and safe daily physical activity to help reduce obesity. They work through USDA’s Food Stamp Program. From its beginnings of 4 local projects in 1996 to a regional infrastructure with 180 projects, the programs have resulted in fruit and vegetable consumption rising in low-income Californians, a departure from national trends.
After serving on the board of the American Cancer Society and with the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity, Foerster continues as the public member of the California Table Grape Commission and on the Executive Board of the California Dialog on Cancer. She was selected as a “Healthy School Hero” by the White House Conference on Healthy School Environments. She serves on the Action Board of the American Public Health Association and on the Partnership Steering Committee for the National Fruit and Vegetable Program.