About Shape Up Somerville

Shape Up Somerville builds healthy, equitable communities in Somerville through interdisciplinary partnerships, programming, and policies related to food systems and active living. Shape Up Somerville is internationally recognized for this work. We are completing a comprehensive food system assessment to guide future food access work and strengthening physical activity partnerships.

The City of Somerville embodies a culture of health. Shape Up Somerville helps lead these efforts through establishing comprehensive, multi-sector partnerships to achieve systems, environmental, and policy change. We strive to ensure that everyone who lives, works, plays and eats in Somerville has access to healthful food options and active living opportunities. 

SUS began in 2002 as a CDC-funded research study led by Somerville community members, Tufts University, Somerville Schools and Cambridge Health Alliance with the goal of preventing obesity in 1st through 3rd graders through environmental changes. The researchers found that environmental changes like adding bike lanes, helping restaurants offer healthier options, and updating school lunches made a difference in preventing childhood obesity. Following the 3-year study, SUS was adopted by the City of Somerville and with generous multi-year grant funding, we have been able to expand our efforts to a city-wide focus.

Today, Shape Up Somerville works with a wide variety of local organizations and municipal departments continue improving the city’s culture of health. For example, Shape Up Somerville and the Cambridge Health Alliance are currently leading the charge to complete a city-wide food system assessment: a study of where people get food, how they get there, and what barriers there are to having enough health-promoting food. With this information, SUS and our local partners can work together to fill those gaps and break down those barriers. Visit our tabs below to see what else we’re up to!

  • Fresh Local Food Access

  • Ways to Get Going

  • Media Coverage & More

  • Related SUS Resources & Committees

  • FAQs About SUS

  • Somerville Mobile Farmers' Market

    Bringing fresh, local produce to a street near you. This website has our hours, weekly produce offerings, and information on how to apply for food assistance benefits in Somerville.

  • 'Shape Up Approved' Menu & Restaurant Guide

    A complete listing of Shape Up Somerville's approved menus at participating restaurants.

  • Somerville Farm to School Program

    Empowering students to be informed and mindful of eating and food systems.

  • Somerville Food Resource Guide

    A comprehensive guide to the City's community meals, pantries, markets, gardens, and more.

  • Somerville Urban Agriculture Blog

    Fresh stories about urban agriculture efforts in the City.

  • Safe Tap Water Access

    Look for water bottle filling stations in newly renovated parks and in the High School. In partnership with the schools, working on a needs assessment to add more stations. Click here for more information on recent drinking water tests done in the Somerville Public Schools.

  • Community Food System Assessment

    Examining Somerville’s food landscape as it relates to food security and access, the food economy, food waste and recovery.

  • 9-5-2-1-0 Campaign

    Shape Up Somerville, Somerville Public Schools, and Cambridge Health Alliance's campaign to promote balanced, healthy lives.

  • Farmers' Markets Near You

    Urban agriculture brings fresh and local food to your table.

  • Nibble Cooking Classes

    The Somerville Arts Council Explores Food & Culture in Union Square and beyond.

  • Click N' Cook

    Find recipes based on what you have in the house using Click ‘n Cook! Select the items you have to use, and this digital database will find recipes using those items.



Want to get involved with SUS initiatives? Email us at [email protected] for volunteer and internship opportunities.

Grab a Map and Get Outdoors

You don't need an expensive gym membership to stay fit in Somerville! Check out the links below for a guide to some great exercise spots in the City:

More Ways to Stay Active and Have Fun

Get Involved with SUS

Want to get involved with SUS initiatives? Email us at [email protected] for volunteer and internship opportunities.



Want to get involved with SUS initiatives? Email us at [email protected] for volunteer and internship opportunities.

Do you lead exercise programming or offer nutrition lessons?

No we don't, and here's why: Shape Up Somerville works to improve the environment we live in: rather than offering exercise classes, we work to make sure that everyone has access to safe active transit like well-maintained bike lanes and wide sidewalks; rather than offering nutrition lessons, we work to make sure that healthy food is affordable and accessible to all in Somerville, even if you don't have a car. However, we would be happy to connect you to places who do offer that programming! Check out our Ways to Get Going and Fresh & Local Food tabs for some of our favorite City resources.

What do you mean by Social Determinants of Health?

The WHO defines the Social Determinants of Health as "conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources at global, national and local levels. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities - the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries". This CDC infographic highlights how root factors such as income, education, safe neighborhoods and housing impact an individual's health.

What are you currently reading to inform your work?

Glad you asked! Right now, we're reading "In Poor Health: Supermarket Redlining and Urban Nutrition," "Culturing Food Deserts" (whose findings suggest race and income impact obesity more than supermarket access), and Austin's "Response to Food Access Resolution and Report" on how they plan to improve healthy food access. Also, read our Facebook and Twitter pages for some of our past favorites with commentary. 

I'd like to learn more about Shape Up Somerville or bring its principles to my community. How can I make that happen?

Visit the Media Coverage tab, which has all of our best background information. If you still have questions after you check out those resources, get in contact with us at the phone number or email provided above and we'll set up a time to meet.

How can I take part in SUS initiatives?

Want to get involved with SUS initiatives? Email us at [email protected] for volunteer and internship opportunities.