What is the National Salt Reduction Initiative?
The National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI) is an effort to reduce the amount of salt in our national food supply by 20 percent over a 5 year period. The NSRI works with companies to voluntarily reduce the amount of salt in their products. Similar efforts in other countries have shown that by slowly reducing the amount of salt in food over time, consumer taste can become accustomed to lower sodium food--allowing for a reduction in salt without a reduction in taste.
 
The NSRI is being coordinated by the New York City Health Department (NYCHD). To date, the NYCHD has brought together 52 partners from around the nation and secured commitments from 17 manufacturers and restaurants.
 
As part of this effort to change our food environment, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released, Salt Matters. This video discusses some staggering facts about the sodium in our food supply.
 
Is the problem salt or sodium?
Salt is made of sodium and chloride. Sodium is the part of salt that increases blood pressure as well as heart disease and stroke risk. By lowering the amount of salt you eat, you will lower the amount of sodium you eat.
 
Why is reducing the amount of salt in our food supply important?
Nearly 80 percent of the salt Americans consume is added to our food before it reaches our tables. Just 11 percent of the salt in our diets is added at the dinner table. It is simple to tell people to reduce the amount of salt they consume but it is difficult to follow this advice in an environment where salt is so prevalent.
 
Eating too much salt has been linked to high blood pressure as well as heart disease and stroke. Heart disease and stroke are the  first and third causes of death in Pennsylvania. Stroke is the leading cause of disability in this state.
 
What can you do now?
 
As an individual:
1. Know your recommended limits for daily sodium intake.
    a. In general, adults should consume less than 2,300mg of sodium each day.
    b. High risk groups should consume less than 1,500mg of sodium each day. These groups include:
        i. African Americans;
        ii. Adults 40 years of age or older; and
        iii. Anyone with high blood pressure.
2. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
3. Learn how to read and compare nutrition fact panels. Purchase low sodium foods.
4. When eating out, ask for no or low salt items.
 
As a Locality:
1. Work to increase awareness of recommended sodium limits and the health benefits of lowering sodium consumption.
2. Implement food policies that set nutrition standards on all food purchased, served or sold by an institution or employer. These policies harness the purchasing power of large organizations to create demand for lower sodium foods.
3. Take advantage of funding to support health eating, including sodium reduction, initiatives.
 
Recently Funded Projects
In early 2011, the Cardiovascular Health Section issued a mini-grant opportunity to community organizations, schools, worksites and SHIPs throughout the commonwealth. Applicants were asked to implement interventions that focus on policy, environmental and systems change to address sodium reductive initiatives.
 
The following projects were approved:
Mallard Run Apartments Tenants Association
Camp Hill, Cumberland County
This project will implement an accessible community garden at Mallard Run Apartments, a Section 8 housing community for low-income elderly and adults with chronic disabilities.
 
Community Human Services
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
This project will fund a nutritionist to help the organization develop nutrition standards that will be implemented through on-site training with food preparation staff. The ultimate goal is for all food staff to be able to prepare healthy, low fat and low sodium menus.
 
Lancaster General Hospital-Lighten Up Lancaster County Coalition
Lancaster City, Lancaster County
This project will fund the creation of mobile food markets to be used in underserved areas of the city. Farmers will sell fruits and vegetables near public schools and low-income housing areas. Eduational materials and resources will be provided to promote low salt diets that are high in consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. 
 
The Partnership Transportation Management Association of Montgomery County (PTMA)
North Wales, Montgomery County 
This initiative will implement a Bike Share program among multiple municipalities in the Upper Perk region and expand the mobility education program to include a new defensive walking course for adults.
 
Quiet Creek Herb Farm & School of Country Living, Inc
Brookville, Jefferson & Clarion Counties
This project will fund the "Grow Up Great with Flex" program to educate teachers on how to integrate materials about healthy choices into their curriculum, incorporate health choices into the school's food service program and the child's home setting.