About Office of Food Access and Healthy Communities

We have updated our name to reflect the evolution of our work!

Shape Up Somerville (SUS)  is nationally and internationally recognized for its groundbreaking work and galvanized the Mayor to champion bold action and data driven policies to build a healthier & more equitable community. It was the first community-based environmental approach research study to address the rising rates of childhood obesity in the early 2000’s. The study and the work that ensued afterwards was made possible by the collaborative and foundational efforts of community-based organizations and partners, Dr. Chris Economos and her team at Tufts University, and the administration of Mayor Joe Curtatone.

Since its inception, both the SUS office and the greater field have grown to understand the deep systemic roots of obesity and thus have aimed to change the work of promoting holistic health and wellbeing from targeting the individual to targeting environments, systems and policies.

This office spends a lot of time working on food systems issues to achieve health equity given the strong connection between community level food access and health outcomes. However, there’s a complex intersection of several drivers of health such as safe, walkable neighborhoods, green spaces, access to education and healthcare, and affordable housing.   Therefore we’ve included “Healthy Communities” in our name to show our commitment and effort in cross-sector work to build healthier communities. This office will continue to remain fluid; backboning emerging work as appropriate and supporting other interdepartmental and community-based programmatic, policy and systems work to collectively improve health outcomes. 

The new name and logo aims to reflect this interplay of factors. To remain consistent with the collective efforts behind SUS, community partners weighed in on the updated name and logo influencing the final product.

 

  • Fresh Local Food Access

  • Ways to Get Going

  • Media Coverage & Resources

  • FAQs About OFAHC

  • Community Food System Assessment

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

  • Somerville Food Action Plan

    Goals, recommendations, and actions identified by the Community Food System Assessment workgroup and report on ways to improve our local food system.

  • 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.

  • SomerVoice

    Stay posted on big projects that are building healthy communities.

  • Somerville Food Security Coalition

    Find low cost, healthy food in Somerville ● Keep: 95210 Campaign.

  • 9-5-2-1-0 Campaign

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

  • DTA Finder

    Connects you to ways to buy seasonal affordable produce with SNAP. All Somerville farmers markets accept SNAP and have a $15 SNAP/P-EBT match.

  • Community Gardens

    Find out how to get involved with community gardens in Somerville.

  • Somerville Public School Food and Nutrition Service

    Stay connected on what’s for lunch and more!

  • 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 OFAHC initiatives? Email us at OFAHC@somervillema.gov for volunteer and internship opportunities.

Getting Around Somerville

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 OFAHC

Want to get involved with OFAHC initiatives? Email us at OFAHC@somervillema.gov for volunteer and internship opportunities.

Safety and Sustainability

Read about how Somerville strives to support low carbon, safe mobility with our Vision Zero Action Plan and Climate Forward Plan.

Do you lead exercise programming or offer nutrition lessons?

No we don't, and here's why: the Office of Food Access and Healthy Communities 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 regularly refer to readings on the MA Food System Collaborative website as well as Food Solutions New England’s 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge. Also, read our Facebook and Twitter pages for some of our past favorites with commentary. 

I’d like to learn more about the Office of Food Access and Healthy Communities or past work of Shape Up Somerville, or bring its principles to my community. How can I make that happen?

Visit the Media Coverage & Resources 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 OFAHC initiatives?

Email us at OFAHC@somervillema.gov.