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Exploring the food landscape

Improving Milwaukeeans' diets – while creating jobs.

Exploring the food landscape by Laura L. Otto

How can research improve the diets of Milwaukee residents while also creating new jobs related to food?

The Institute for Urban Agriculture & Nutrition, which is being led by UWM, aims to bring together seven universities and a host of community partners, including Growing Power, the Milwaukee Food Council and the City of Milwaukee, to brainstorm answers to food-related issues.

Access to healthy food is a social welfare and public health issue.
Stan Stojkovic, dean,
Helen Bader School of Social Welfare

The research will be guided by the community, whose participation will help pinpoint the problems to tackle – from promotion of healthy eating to food-related health disparities to advancing business issues, like food transport and packaging.

“Access to healthy food is a social welfare and public health issue,” says Stan Stojkovic, dean of the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare and chair of the working group forming the institute.

“An equitable and affordable local food system in Milwaukee is fundamental to addressing food-related health problems and an individual’s ability to study and work,” Stojkovic says. “In addition, a healthy local food system will provide much-needed job opportunities in our city center.”

To incorporate job training into the work, the institute will examine the food landscape “from field to food hub to fork” with three initial pilot projects, each tailored to the three themes.

Partners may work on scaling up composting at community gardens, with the aim of turning those efforts into sustainable businesses. Other ideas include enlisting master gardeners to teach kids how to garden, and working with the City of Milwaukee Home GR/Own Initiative to set up community gardens and food exchanges on the city’s foreclosed properties.

The institute has already earned significant financial support to develop its infrastructure with grants from the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin and the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program.