Scaling up Milwaukee Urban Agriculture ' Nutrition

Impacting the health of urban Milwaukee families through a comprehensive field-to-foodhub-to-fork approach

Full Project Name:Scaling up Milwaukee Urban Agriculture & Nutrition Through a Community/Science InstitutePrimary Community Organization:Institute for Urban Agriculture & NutritionPrimary Academic Partner:Zeno Franco, PhD, Family and Community MedicineAward Amount:$199,993
Award Date
January2014
Project Duration:27 months

Project Description Narrative:


While the global, industrial food system serving American cities today provides an abundance of healthy food options to those who can afford it. However, those who cannot are left to access low-nutrient, high-calorie foods, or they go hungry.

In Milwaukee, this translates to staggering realities. Citizens in the U.S. Congressional District serving Milwaukee face twice the level of food insecurity as those in the rest of the state, with 84% of students in Milwaukee schools eligible for the Free and Reduced Lunch program. In a seven ZIP-code target area, the median family income from 2007-2011 was below $27,000 — half that of the rest of Milwaukee.

Furthermore, the food system is complex with inefficiencies, inequalities, and problems at many points on the "field to fork" continuum, from soil health in the field, to healthy food processing, to cost-effective food distribution, to consumer education so that consumers have access and the desire to buy and prepare healthy foods.

Inspired to change these conditions, project partners aim to impact the health of urban Milwaukee families in a comprehensive field-to-food hub-to-fork approach that increases the production and processing of — and desire for — healthier, culturally appropriate foods.

Community partners:
City of Milwaukee Office of Sustainability, CORE/El Centro, Elyve Organics, Growing Power Inc., Institute for Urban Agriculture & Nutrition (IUAN), MPS ALBA Elementary School, MPS Vincent High School, Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension – Milwaukee County, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Office of Sustainability, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Research Foundation

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Created a network of academic associates and community leaders with expertise to support the development of urban agriculture, engaging project collaborators with academic associates to support research toward adequate, appropriate, and safe food and nutrition

• Launched three Sustained Research Inquiries (SRIs) to impact urban health by addressing Milwaukee's complex food system that centered around: (1) Upscaling composting; (2) Developing business support for urban agriculture practitioners; (3) Creating consumer knowledge and demand for healthier foods

• Conducted waste audits, ground assessments and faculty workshops to determine the best models for composting operations to integrate into existing student curriculum at Vincent High School and potentially scale up to handle more compostable waste

• Collaborated with the Food Enterprise Development Network to help build a coalition of existing services

• Developed a model for Food Policies for Latino Schools regarding snacks, fundraising events and celebrations and piloted the model at ALBA Elementary School

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