Obesity in Milwaukee

Obesity in Milwaukee

The numbers aren’t great, with 37.2 percent of Milwaukee residents considered obese in 2014. That’s up 8 percent from 2011, according to research from the Public Policy Forum, spearheaded by Chris Spahr, the Forum’s 2015-2016 Norman N. Gill Civic Engagement Fellow.

On Friday, July 15, 2016, the Milwaukee Center for Independence hosted the Forward Forum to bring an inspiring mix of organizations together to react to Spahr’s research. Participants had the opportunity to discuss existing roadblocks as well as solutions to address obesity—specifically childhood obesity. Among the barriers to healthy living were everything you might expect: lack of physical exercise related to city infrastructure and high crime neighborhoods; limited accessibility to fresh food; and poor socioeconomic status.

So what’s a city to do?

Students learning to grow vegetables in the city.

Students learning to grow vegetables in the city.

Milwaukee community leaders are implementing novel and much-needed policies in conjunction with grassroots efforts to throw resistance at the rising obesity trend. Below is a sampling of what the city and nonprofit organizations are doing to meet the needs of at-risk neighborhoods and empower residents to fight for change. Take a look, get familiar. Maybe there’s a way you can help? As Heidi Chada, registered dietitian and vice president of nutrition services for the Milwaukee Center for Independence concluded: “We must continue to look for ways we can all coalesce around a common goal.”

Home Gr/own: Works to repurpose vacant lots into urban gardens and increase healthy food retailers in targeted neighborhoods.

Milwaukee Childhood Obesity Prevention Project: A coalition of community partners working to promote healthy living for kids and families.

Path to Platinum: An effort to make Milwaukee a more bicycle friendly community.

Pick N Save Fresh Picks Mobile Market in Partnership with Milwaukee County and Hunger Task Force: A unique mobile grocery truck selling 40-plus fruits and veggies, meat, and dairy.

The Pick N Save Mobile Market travels the city to increase accessibility to fresh food.

The Pick N Save Mobile Market travels the city to increase accessibility to fresh food.

Milwaukee Center for Independence Fresh Connections: Provides nutrition and wellness education to more than 70 community partner schools, daycares and other programs.

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin NEW Kids Program: Helps children ages 2 to 18 with medical problems related to obesity.

Victory Garden Initiative Farm Stand Program: Empowers and educates neighborhood youth to grow and sell local produce.

Growing Power Youth Corps: Provides job training, life skills and food system education to underserved youth.

Groundwork Milwaukee: Improves quality of life for youth and families through a series of sustainable food projects.

Alice’s Garden: Nurtures families and organizations to reclaim and nourish cultural and family traditions connected to land and food.

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