noun: feasibility-the state or degree of being easily or conveniently done.

“the feasibility of a manned flight to Mars”

Building a new grocery store is about as difficult as sending a man to Mars.  That is where Uplift comes in. We know that there is no-one size fits all.  Careful consideration and an in-depth study could make or break the success of your investment.

Uplift believes that food access in underserved communities can become the anchor to fulfill community needs and ensure consistent access to fresh, affordable food.

New supermarket and co-operative development, especially in food deserts, is fraught with complex issues and nuance that go far beyond a layman’s understanding.  Retaining a technical assistance and strategic planning service like Uplift can make your project work.  But why? To start: we always do a comprehensive retail grocery feasibility study.

We love strategic city mapping, demographic information, city revitalization proposals, public health assessments, and grocery leakage numbers – but they cannot tell you by themselves whether a proposed food access solution will work.  We perform a feasibility study so that you can have the essential information to plug into the larger information that you have, whether it is something listed above or something entirely different.

A comprehensive retail grocery feasibility study will tell you what the sales volume potential is, what your competitors are doing, whether your proposed development will be close to the industry average for sales per square foot, and more. Not only is this the correct language to attract a grocery operator, but it is the information we need to teach a new operator how to be profitable.

You want to know what the problems in your city are that have led to a food desert, and so do we – but doing a feasibility study in addition to collecting other information lets us get down to brass tacks:  Can this community support this store, so that this community has sustainable food access for a long time?  Let’s find out together!

Contact Uplift’s Business Development Manager, Lauren Vague Stager at

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Food as Medicine

by: Julia Hickman, La Salle University Dietetic Intern

The results are in and they are astounding; Philadelphia is sick. According to the 2015 Community Health Assessment (CHA), Philadelphia adult obesity nears 30%. Upon further inspection, there is a high correlation between lower income areas and the prevalence of obesity. 39.2% of adults residing in Upper and Lower North Philadelphia are obese, more than 10% greater than the 2015 national average of 27%. With obesity as a risk factor for hypertension and diabetes, its no surprise the prevalence of hypertension in North Philadelphia nears 40% and diabetes reaches 18%. 1

The current health care model of America focuses on preexisting conditions and prescribing medicine to “fix” the problem. Health care providers focus on reducing elevated blood sugars and pressures but the underlying problem is seldom emphasized. The link between lifestyle factors, diet and exercise is unquestionably linked to the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. The statement “food as medicine” is no longer a stretch of the imagination but a potential solution to the rising costs of heath care in the United States of America.

According to the US Center of Disease Control (CDC), heart disease and type 2 diabetes are two of the seven chronic diseases along with stroke, cancer, obesity, and arthritis that are the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems. It is estimated in 2012, together approximately $245 billion American dollars were lost due to the high costs of diabetic medical bills and reduction of productivity in those with diabetes.2

The ever-growing issue of preventable chronic disease is multifaceted and attributed to a wide variety of factors. Unfortunately, fast food is fast and convenient, while buying fresh healthier options can be more expensive and time consuming.  The CHA went even further to show the high-poverty populations with the highest prevalence of diabetes and hypertension had little to no walkable access to healthy food.1 In lower income areas, with individuals of lower education levels, the link between chronic disease prevention and healthy eating may be unknown. According to the CHA, only 27.8% of adults above the age of 25 in Upper North Philadelphia have completed some college.1

Fortunately, there are organizations on the front lines within Philadelphia working to alleviate these health disparities and push America towards prevention instead of prescriptions. Uplift is one nonprofit creating sustainable access to fresh and healthy food, nutrition education, and health care to underserved communities.

Uplift connects its clients to a registered dietitian, nurse practitioner, family pharmacist, medical assistant, and community resource counselors. The dietitian is able to work one on one with clients free of cost, as well as providing diabetes classes, and shopping tours on how to buy and cook food to get the most nutrition for the lowest cost. The community resource counselors are available to help clients apply for government assistant programs like SNAP.3

While Uplift Health Solutions is in its early stages since its coming to be in 2015, the number of clients in the past two years has increased by 166% and the total interaction from shoppers has increased by 239%.3 Although Uplift Health Solutions is relatively new, the outlook is positive as its services are convenient and provide the community with a means to overcome socioeconomic disparities and improve their health.



  1. Community Health Assessment (CHA) Philadelphia, PA. Published December 2016. Accessed September 27, 2017.
  2. Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published June 28, 2017. Accessed September 27, 2017.
  3. About. Uplift Solutions. Accessed September 27, 2017.
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Why your next hire should be an ex-convict

It’s not a qualification most businesses have in mind, but some companies are seeing big time value in hiring men and women who were once behind bars.

Uplift Workforce Solutions is a program designed to provide training and employment opportunities for re-entering citizens in and around Philadelphia to successfully reintegrate.  The program focuses on developing both hard and soft skills of the re-entering citizens; whereas, each participant that successfully completes the six-week classroom portion of the program will be directly hired by a partner employer.

“Searching for a job with a criminal record is overwhelming and finding employment is one of the greatest barriers to successful reintegration.  A good job is key to keeping people from returning to prison.”-Barry Johnson, Workforce Director.

One of Uplift’s hiring partners is Brown’s Superstore.  The President and CEO of Brown’s Superstores, Jeff Brown has promised to hire every graduate. “You need an extraordinary amount of motivation to pull yourself up from being a felon because of these obstacles,” he said. “Right off the bat, you can see a person who needs to do it, who must do it, verses one who is indifferent. The story of someone who is going to be successful is that the reason they need to be successful is beyond themselves. It’s family, children, setting an example for their kids, supporting their spouses, often a belief in a higher power.”

Still skeptical about hiring formally incarcerated?   Here’s more incentive.

-Research shows that re-entering citizens are loyal employees.  After having doors closed, you open yours and they will look out for you because you gave them a chance.

-They are being trained and come to you with a valuable skill.  The training teaches soft skills which includes discipline and hard work.

-Finding a job out of prison is not easy for them…once they are hired they are motivated to be a long-term employee and tend to be the employees who get promoted first. They value the chance you gave them and will stay with you longer.

-Finally, hire formally incarcerated men and women you may qualify for tax incentive that will go to your bottom line.

One Workforce Cohort said it best when she spoke at a recent graduation.  “Because of you, because you opened doors for us, we respect that…and we are grateful to you. I’m going to say this to you — we’re going to make you proud.”

The Workforce Solutions program is a six-week training program that provides life skills, job readiness, and technical training to re-entering citizens.  In the first four weeks of training, participants develop the skills necessary to self-evaluate and become self-aware; how to effectively work with others; how to effectively resolve conflict; and how to provide exceptional customer service and sales.  During this time, participants can roleplay the new behaviors.

Uplift Executive Director, Atif Bostic- “We are creating opportunities where they don’t exist.    It’s not about second chances.  It’s about creating opportunities where they don’t exist. We want people who will be good employees.  We are giving people a chance at living the American dream.”

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Colored Foods Matter: Five Creative, Fresh Ways to use the color red to stay healthy.


-Berry melon bruschetta

-Turkey burgers with grilled watermelon

-Infused watermelon water

-Watermelon salsa w/mint and feta

-Greek yogurt and watermelon salad dressing

Benefits of Watermelon:

-Great source of Potassium, Magnesium, and Thiamine

-Has zero saturated fat, zero cholesterol, and zero sodium in a standard serving

-92% of watermelon is comprised of water; fantastic way to increase your water intake

-L-Citrulline (an amino acid within watermelon) helps to maintain blood flow in the heart

-Tasty in smoothies, fruit salads, yogurt parfaits, and cupcakes

-Its sweet taste makes it an easy, healthy dessert alternative

Fun Facts about Watermelon

-Makes delicious grilled kabobs

-Africa’s Kalahari Desert is watermelon’s place of origin

-American’s consume watermelon more than any other melon

-One watermelon can feed 3-dozen people

-Available year round

As you can see, watermelon can be used simply as an ingredient in a fresh fruit salad or as something more complex like a watermelon-based cupcake. This summer, I urge you to try a new recipe adding watermelon into it—whether it is integrated into your 4th of July cookout in a grilled watermelon burger or into your daily smoothie. Watermelon is a wonderful way to satisfy your sugar cravings and not feel guilty about it. For more kid/family-friendly recipes staring watermelon, visit Enjoy!

Ashley Benton– UpLift Solutions Summer Intern

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Why do Colored Foods Matter – June Blog

I grew up thinking that eating meat and potatoes for every meal was the definition of a healthy diet.  As I got older, the pounds quickly packed on and I felt tired and sluggish.  Today, I’m re-learning the real meaning of eating balanced meals.

I’ve recently come on board as the Communication Manager at UpLift.  I quickly learned America is sick.  Very sick.  40% of us are overweight, 50% are on cholesterol medications. And we spend over 2 trillion annually on health care.  And even though we spend massive amounts of money on ‘health care’, over 1 million Americans are killed each year by heart disease and cancer.  Even still, ⅓ of people born in the U.S. today will develop diabetes during their lifetime. These numbers are even worse if you live in a low-income community with no access to healthy food.

UpLift’s Director of Health Innovation, Victoria Della Rocca RD, LDN preaches the notion that food is medicine. Just imagine—food as medicine.  Can chronic diseases be controlled or even be reversed just by eating the right foods?   Victoria and the team of dietitians at UpLift promote healthy lifestyles and provide nutritional education that is making a difference.

Thomas Edison said–“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.”

Now is the best time for you to load up on in-season fresh fruits and vegetables.  Red, blue, yellow and the entire rainbow of bright colored fruits and veggies provide amazing health benefits.  We call it —Colored Foods Matter.

Anthocyanins are responsible for red and purple colors in foods can help keep your mind sharp.

Lycopene that turns watermelon and tomatoes red may also help prevent certain types of cancers.

Beta carotene that makes carrots and sweet potatoes orange can help keep your bones strong, your eyes healthy and boost your immune system.

Eat your (Greens):
List several different green fruits and vegetables: Spinach, Kiwi, Avocado, Kale, Broccoli
There are various green fruits and vegetables that can lower cholesterol, help prevent certain cancers, boost your immune system, and stabilize blood sugars.

Red fruits and vegetables have anti-inflammatory effects and can help reduce blood pressure.

Stay tuned this month as the UpLift health solution staff will continue talking about how Colored foods matter. Join our Facebook Group page —Health Bites with Health Solutions.  We’ll have tips, interesting information and recipes you can use every day.

Having access to fresh and healthy food is a fundamental right for everyone. Yet over 23 million Americans live in areas without supermarkets or other places where they can access fresh, nutritious foods. The problem may not lie solely with food accessibility; it could also be due to people’s shopping and eating habits.  Health and nutrition education will lead to a healthier America.

Audrey Fish – UpLift Communications Manager

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UpLift’s MAY BLOG: Workforce Solutions

The stress of searching for a job with a criminal record can be overwhelming. Over 40,000 people return to Philadelphia from state and federal prison every year, approximately 44,000 people in Philadelphia are on probation at any given time and over 300,000 people living in Philly have criminal records.

When individuals are released from jails or prisons, they are faced with the task of finding resources with limited guidance and immediate needs. Many of these men and women re-entering our community from incarceration struggle with a social stigma that can make it even more difficult to find stability and feeling accepted. Stable employment is one of the strongest predictors of a returning citizen’s post release success, including recidivism, whereas finding employment is one of the greatest barriers to successful reintegration. The potential is great, therefore, for work programs to improve their financial, personal, and professional success and ability to contribute more fully as citizens.

I’m proud to be part of a new program at UpLift called Workforce Solutions. My name is Barry Johnson and I’m the Director for Workforce Solutions. We are a heartbeat away from cutting the ribbon on something that will bring new life for those struggling to find a new beginning. We are going to train formally incarcerate individuals to reenter the workforce. The program will focus on developing both hard and soft skills of re-entering citizens; whereas, each participant that successfully completes the six-week classroom portion of the program will be offered a position at Brown’s Super Stores.

During their enrollment, the Workforce Solutions staff will provide supportive services such as finding GED classes, applying for a State ID and taking their driving permit exam. Workforce Solution’s is also proud to have partnered with community organizations to assist with any other challenges such as housing and mental health. Additionally, program participants will maintain engagement with case management personnel throughout their employment.

When we started looking for recruitments, I did not expect the overwhelming level of responses. My voicemail and email have been filled daily with stories from men and women who have been struggling to find a job. Some are just worn out from years of being turned away. Others are close to giving up. They are desperate and looking for a way to make a living for themselves and their families. We know that employment is the key to keeping people from returning to prison. Many of these individuals, due to a lack of opportunity, decide their only option for survival is to re-engage in past behavior. This cycle has led to an 80 percent recidivism rate and long-term structural poverty.

UpLift Workforce Solutions is creating opportunities where they don’t exist. We are developing strong partnerships to strengthen this unique training program. Uplift’s Workforce Solutions understands the priority of employment and self-sufficiency and has taken reentry to a new and exciting place. Uplift Workforce Solutions are thrilled about this initiative and are looking forward to helping returning citizens rebuild their lives.

# # #

Barry Johnson is the Director of Workforce Solutions for UpLift. For nearly fifteen years Mr. Johnson has spent his career leading reentry programs and ensuring a successful transition for returning citizens. His diverse background and focus on community collaboration has led him to several opportunities and leadership roles. Mr. Johnson is a Navy veteran who has previously worked for the Pennsylvania Prison Society, JEVS Human Services and the Center for Literacy.  Barry Johnson received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from University of Maryland, College Park and holds an MBA from the University of California at Irvine.

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UpLift Blog #2 comes from our Health Solutions dietitians who are creating healthy changes for people around the Philadelphia area. For more information on how they can help your company please email

Today, we are exposed to nutrition information on TV, in the newspaper, and from family and friends. It can become overwhelming to determine what is fact and fiction. “Registered dietitians — RDs — are the food and nutrition experts who can translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living.” 1 The registered dietitian credential differentiates those that have completed years of education and training, from those that call themselves “nutritionists” and have not.

Health Solutions is bringing these food and nutrition experts directly into the community. They will offer free wellness services through an innovative health program. Our goal is to provide quality care to neighborhoods in the Philadelphia area with support from Uplift solutions and AARP Foundation. The Health Solutions dietitians are currently located at the ShopRite of Cheltenham Square and Fox Street in Philadelphia.

Health Solutions retail dietitians provide customers with complementary services such as one-on-one consultations, grocery store tours, diabetes classes and support groups, weight management classes, cooking classes and health screenings. Dietitians also provide nutrition education to community organizations such as retirement homes, gyms, schools, churches, and more. As a partnership with our in-store pharmacist, we offer coordinated care, free immunizations and free select generic diabetes medications.

Individual Counseling

Our dietitians provide tailored individual advice by getting to know the person, their eating habits, health conditions, and desired state of health. Initial counseling sessions focus on how to increase the client's understanding of their health condition and skill development such as label reading and menu planning. Your current eating habits will be reviewed and you will work with a dietitian to create a plan to make positive changes. Dietitians then help you craft personalized goals to meet your health and wellness needs. Follow-up visits focus on maintenance, monitoring progress, and setting new goals if applicable.

Health Conditions

Are you unsure of what foods to eat for your health condition? Health Solutions dietitians can focus counseling sessions on a variety of health conditions such as food allergies, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, prediabetes and diabetes. We can help you understand how to improve your health condition with food and lifestyle changes.

Weight Loss

Many individuals seek dietitians for help with weight loss or maintenance. While fad diets may seem like the way to go, they are not sustainable long-term. Dietitians provide safe and effective tools to lose weight such as meal planning, portion control, recipe revamps and mindful eating. 2

Contact us to schedule a free one-on- one consultation or to sign-up for one of our events!

Registered Dietitians:
Anita Anim, MPH, RD, LDN
Cheltenham Square
241 Cheltenham Ave, Wyncote, PA 19150
856-631- 3722

Danielle Sanislow, RD, LDN
Fox Street
Fox St & Roberts Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19129
856-473- 5999


1 What is an RDN and NDTR? (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2016, from is-an- rdn-and- dtr

2 Ansel, K. (2014, February 5). What an RDN Can Do for You. Retrieved December 7, 2016, from about-rdns/what- an-rdn-can- do-for- you

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I’m not talking about what you had for lunch.  I’m talking about the number of people…right in here in American who do not access to fresh and heathy food all due to where they live.

23.5 million Americans live in food deserts—making it impossible for them to get fresh healthy food.   So, what’s available to people who live in food deserts?  Fast food outlets, corner stores and quickie markets which provide a wealth of processed, sugar, and fat laden foods that are known contributors to our nation’s obesity epidemic.   This epidemic leads to other health issues including high blood pressure, diabetes and sadly a much shorter life all due to their where the call home.

UpLift works with businesses across the country to improve access to food by bringing supermarkets, co-operatives, farmers markets and healthy corner stores to underserved communities.  Our expertise provides the tools to develop successful food businesses in the places that need them most.

This is the first in a series of blogs from UpLift.  Our mission-to build strong communities and social equity by increasing access to food, healthcare, nutrition education and capital in underserved communities.  In our monthly blogs, you’ll hear about the four programs powered by UpLift which include:

  • Sustainable Food Solutions
  • Health Solutions
  • Financial Solutions
  • Workforce Solutions

All programs support the one main goal: to create access to fresh healthy food and nutrition education for low income communities.

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Uplift Solutions will be hosting a private screening of “Can You Dig This,” Wednesday, April 5th, 7:30PM at the Landmark Ritz at the Bourse in Philadelphia.  A $25 donation is requested.  You can get tickets here.

From Executive Producer, John Legend.

South Los Angeles. What comes to mind is gangs, drugs, liquor stores, abandoned buildings and vacant lots. The last thing that you would expect to find is a beautiful garden sprouting up through the concrete, coloring the urban landscape. As part of an urban gardening movement taking root in South LA, people are planting to transform their neighborhoods and are changing their own lives in the process. Calling for people to put down their guns and pick up their shovels, these “gangster gardeners” are creating an oasis in the middle of one of the most notoriously dangerous places in America. CAN YOU DIG THIS follows the inspirational journeys of four unlikely gardeners, discovering what happens when they put their hands in the soil. This is not a story of science and economics. This is a story of the human spirit, inspiring people everywhere to pick up their shovels and “plant some shit.”

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Check out some of the photos from the Heaven 600 Spring Holiday Harvest held at the Shoprite in Howard Park, Baltimore

Link to Full Article

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