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
In 2015, the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute launched the Youth Food Educators Program (YOFE). 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, the youth engage in countermarketing unhealthy foods and beverages that are marketed in their communities, and 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.
The Institute is presently focused on expanding the reach of the program, and rather than offer the program directly, we train other organizations on the implementation of the program, and have created resources that provide guidance on program implementation. Our Youth Food Countermarketing Hub contains resources we developed for the program including, the YOFE Toolkit and the Countermarketing Staff Training Program. For more information about the YOFE program or the Institute’s countermarketing work, contact Charita Johnson James.
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.
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.
CHANGING FOOD ENVIRONMENTs
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 in East Harlem. We also assessed the implications of these changes for health and nutrition in that community. We are now working with partners to use these findings to inform food goals for East Harlem for the next 10 years.