/ How the Wisconsin Beverage Association is Working to Support Healthier Communities

How the Wisconsin Beverage Association is Working to Support Healthier Communities

Did you know that the beverage industry has a long history of supporting healthier and active communities? From providing Wisconsinites with more zero- and reduced-sugar beverage options, to contributing to environmental and charitable causes in communities across the state, the Wisconsin Beverage Association has very much been a concerted effort toward improving the state’s overall health.

With several outreach efforts in both the environmental and health and wellness space over the last few years, the Wisconsin Beverage Association continues to make an impact on local communities, notably in Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay.

In 2012, the Wisconsin Beverage Association partnered with the United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee and the Medical College of Wisconsin to create a summer youth program, Growing Your Future. The Milwaukee-based program focused on adolescent health and supporting teens in growing a garden full of foods that contribute to a balanced lifestyle.

“It was a good look for the neighborhood to have a garden, and I never really cared for vegetables, or even planting them, so that was a new experience for me,” said Ayinde Beard, a Growing Your Future program participant.

The program was designed to help participating youth learn the value of nutrition and physical activity, as well as to develop business skills that they could then take away and apply in their own lives.

“Without the program at the community center, I’d be a statistic,” said Growing Your Future program participant Kelvin Harris. “I’d be one of those people being a follower, not a leader. Growing Your Future helped me make better choices.”

In 2014, the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America, along with Madison-area bottlers, donated $18,000 to Madison’s Goodman Community Center to support its Seed to Table program. The program has taught more than 250 middle school children and their families about urban agriculture, culinary arts, food processing, and health and fitness.

Students in the program grow healthy foods and prepare hundreds of meals each day, which are then distributed to the community and local food pantries.

“We believe that by working with others, we can get further faster,” said Kelly McDowell, executive secretary of the Wisconsin Beverage Association. “So we are going to continue to sustain the partnerships that we have, both at a community level and in the public health domain.”

The beverage industry’s efforts have also affected the Green Bay area through the Parks Rx program. Parks Rx is a local, clinically-based collaborative effort between the City of Green Bay Parks and Recreation Department, Prevea Health, Live54218 and the Wisconsin Beverage Association. The program began in 2015 with grant support from local bottlers along with the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America, and links the healthcare system with the Green Bay Parks System to foster more active and balanced lifestyles for Green Bay area youth. Green Bay’s Fit in the Parks initiative, which involves 15 different fitness classes throughout the city parks system, also was born to encourage community members to get back into the parks.

“We are fortunate to be able to work with partners who support the mission of creating a healthier Green Bay by getting people together outside, in the City’s parks, and enjoying those environments,” said James Andersen, director of Green Bay Parks and Recreation.

The Green Bay Parks Rx program, which explores the relevancy of how parks and healthcare come together to combat health concerns, is recommended to families by Green Bay doctors at Prevea Health. Physician referrals are increasing youth engagement in Green Bay’s playground and recreation activities, resulting in increased fitness.

“We are proud to be part of the tremendous work that is being done in the city of Green Bay,” said McDowell. “Wisconsin’s non-alcoholic beverage industry is a vibrant part of local communities across the state where we also live, work and play and we are committed to being part of meaningful solutions to societal challenges.”

To learn more about the Wisconsin Beverage Association, as well as the myriad beverage options its members provide, charitable causes and neighborhood initiatives it supports, visit

The Wisconsin Beverage Association (WBA) is the trade association for Wisconsin’s refreshing, non-alcoholic beverage industry, serving the public and its members.
The WBA’s mission is to promote the development, preservation, operation and general welfare of the beverage industry in Wisconsin. The WBA represents bottlers and franchise companies on the federal, state and local levels of government.

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