Nutrition and Health Equity
We strive to improve nutrition and health throughout New York City by providing analytic, evaluation, programmatic, and research support concerning the intersectoral impact of food policies and programs on nutrition and health to city and state agencies, public officials, nonprofit and community organizations and service providers, with a focus on serving low income, Black and Hispanic and immigrant populations. Our community projects seek to develop the capacity of community residents and organizations to improve their food environments. While we work throughout the city, we have a special commitment to our home communities of Central and East Harlem.
East Harlem Youth Food Educators Program
The East Harlem Youth Food Educators Program (YOFE) trains young people to develop and deliver messages about food marketing to peers, families and neighbors in their community. They learn to analyze and counter advertising messages on unhealthy food. Using an empowerment model, we engage youth in countermarketing against the unhealthy foods and beverages that are marketed in East and Central Harlem. The youth food educators serve as community-based healthy food advocates and whistle blowers for misinformation and racial or ethnic targeted advertising of unhealthy products by corporate food giants. They also serve as community-based educators, holding workshops and presentations in schools and community centers. We just wrapped up our second youth cohort and are convening a citywide Youth Food Countermarketing Network in spring 2017. For more information, contact Charita Johnson.
Immigrants and Food Access
Our Immigrants and Food project aims to reduce food insecurity and diet-related disease among immigrants in New York City by increasing immigrant access to and enrollment in food assistance programs. In partnership with antihunger groups and community-based organizations that serve immigrants, we are identifying organizational practices and policies that can facilitate immigrant access to food benefits such as SNAP, WIC and school food. The project is developing a toolkit of best practices and convening interested organizations to plan a New York City campaign to improve immigrant access to food benefits. For more information, contact Anabel Perez-Jimenez.
Healthy Food Retail
At a recent forum the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, LISC-New York City (a support organization for community development corporations), and City Harvest, a food rescue organization, convened policy makers, supermarket operators and advocates to consider appropriate policy responses to supermarket closings.
From 2013 to 2015, the number of traditional supermarkets in New York City increased nearly 10%. However, since 2015 there has been a net loss of 16 stores: 10 former A&P, 3 D’Agostinos, and 3 Associated & Key Food. This citywide trend masks the devastating effects of the loss of an individual supermarket -- to workers who lose their jobs and to communities already lacking quality food retail outlets. For some vulnerable residents who may not be in a position to shop at more distant, more affordable or familiar locations, supermarket closings may reduce access to healthy affordable food. In an earlier report, we assessed the impact of the closing of the Pathmark store on 125th Street and Lexington Avenue.
WIC Rule Changes
In collaboration with the Healthy Food Retail Networking Group, we are currently exploring the potential effects of proposed changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) proposed in 2015 by the New York State Department of Health in regards to enrollment criteria for food retailers to become authorized vendors of WIC. While these changes have yet to go into effect and do not have a set implementation date at this time, both vendor and public interest groups have expressed concern about potential negative impacts once the rule is enacted.
EAST HARLEM’S CHANGING FOOD ENVIRONMENT
To provide community residents and organizations with a deeper understanding of how food environments are changing in this neighborhood, we prepared a report summarizing changes in programs and policies in food retail, food benefits, nutrition education and institutional food from 2001 to 2016. We also assessed the implications of these changes for health and nutrition in East Harlem. We are now working with partners to use these findings to inform food goals for East Harlem for the next 10 years.