College of

MSU College of Human Medicine and Neighborhood Ventures awarded for Project FIT “healthy corner store” initiative

December 8, 2011

Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and Neighborhood Ventures, Inc. were
presented with a “Best Non-Profit Project Award” for their FIT Stores initiative at the 22nd Annual Neighborhood Business Awards ceremony in November.

The community event, presented by the Neighborhood Business Alliance and Neighborhood Ventures, celebrated the economic development in Grand Rapids neighborhoods by recognizing individuals and businesses for their success in 14 different categories over the past year.

Accepting the award on behalf of MSU College of Human Medicine was Tracy Thompson, MSU Project FIT coordinator, and Mark C. Lewis, executive director of Neighborhood Ventures, Inc. 

“Our goal was to work with neighborhood stores to establish sustainable ways to make healthy food choices available to Project FIT families,” said Thompson. “This award recognizes the success of this effort and highlights the value of collaboration with partners like Neighborhood Ventures to make a difference in our community.”

The FIT Stores initiative increased access to healthy foods in four Grand Rapids Public School neighborhoods, as part of the Project FIT program, an MSU College of Human Medicine childhood obesity prevention program funded through a $1 million grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. 

MSU College of Human Medicine partnered with Neighborhood Ventures, Inc. for the FIT Stores initiative that helped business owners to increase healthy foods in their stores with such assistance as the purchase of equipment needed for stocking fresh foods, marketing support, nutrition education and materials, and sourcing options for healthy foods.. The FIT Stores are located in the Madison Square, Grandville Avenue, and Division South neighborhood business districts.

“When we first launched the FIT Stores initiative last year, I wondered ‘If we build it will they come?’” said Lewis. “We have proven a resounding ‘yes’ and I believe we are making a difference in the health of our children through this unique program that brings together our neighborhood schools, families, community organizations and businesses.”

 #  #  #

Since 2009, Project FIT has promoted healthy eating and physical activity at four Grand Rapids Public elementary schools and has worked with many community partners to improve the affordability and availability of healthy food and safe places for physical activity in the neighborhoods surrounding the schools. It is funded through a grant to Michigan State University College of Human Medicine from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and is a collaboration among Michigan State University, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Valley State University, Kent County, MSU Extension, USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Nutrition Education, the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, Neighborhood Ventures and several other community partners. In addition to the College of Human Medicine, other colleges and departments within MSU working together on FIT include the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Department of Kinesiology, Department of Radiology; Division of Sports & Cardiovascular Nutrition, Department of Pediatrics and Human Development and the Department of Advertising, Public Relations and Retailing.

# # #

Mark C. Lewis, executive director of
Neighborhood Ventures, Inc. and
Tracy Thompson, MSU College of
Human Medicine's Project FIT coordinator