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About Office of Food Access and Healthy Communities

Mission statement 

Mission: Building healthy, equitable communities for all who live, work, play and age in Somerville through multi-sector partnerships, programming, practices, and policies related to food systems and active living.  

How we do that: Community-level approaches to improving food access and safe mobility and active play.  

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.


Contact Information
Lisa Robinson
Director, Office of Food Access & Healthy Com

Monday - Wednesday
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Phone Number

50 Evergreen Ave.
Somerville, MA 02145
United States

Employee Directory

Food Access


Healthy Communities



Other Food Access Program Resources: Where else to find good food

  • DTA Finder: Connects you to ways to buy seasonal affordable produce with SNAP/HIP program. All Somerville farmers markets host farmers who accept HIP. 
  • The Somerville SNAP Match: The Union and Davis farmers markets accept many public benefits, including a $15 weekly SNAP/P-EBT match.  
  • Somerville Public School Food and Nutrition Services: Stay connected on what’s for lunch and more! 
  • 9-5-2-1-0 Campaign: Shape Up Somerville, Somerville Public Schools, and Cambridge Health Alliance's campaign to promote balanced, healthy lives. 
  • 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. 

Other Community Health Program Resources: 

Learn More: Our work in Somerville is part of collective action at the local, state, and federal level.  

The Shape Up Somerville Story

OFAHC started as a city-academic partnership called Shape Up Somerville. Learn more about this initiative.


OFAHC's YouTube Channel



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 The Shape Up Somerville Story 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 for volunteer and internship opportunities, or to learn more.

Programs & Initiatives

Free Taxis to Groceries & Medical Appointments
Free rides to groceries and medical appointments for transit-dependent Somerville residents with limited incomes.
The Mayor's Parks Pass Challenge
Want to get out and about as a family? We’ve got the perfect opportunity!
The Mayor's Urban Agriculture Initiative
Our Urban Ag program brought first Urban Ag Ordinance in New England, the Urban Ag Ambassadors program, new farms, and more.

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