Supporting Regional Healthy Food Systems Planning in Central Brooklyn
Healthy Food, Healthy Lives
December 10, 2021
A core strategy for improving health and food security is developing and implementing local food systems plans that reflect regional and local circumstances, strengths, and deficits.
Local food systems plans tackle issues such as: engaging health care systems to advocate for and provide healthier institutional food; starting new farmers markets and urban farms; changing zoning to allow the establishment of new supermarkets and other food access points; strengthening farm-to-school programs; expanding nutrition assistance programs; establishing or scaling local food hubs; and educating government officials and community members about what the food system is and why it is important. Most local planning groups are run by volunteers and are loosely organized. Full-time dedicated staff and organizational structure are needed to accelerate and improve the development of local food systems plans. In 2021, NYHealth awarded Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation a grant to develop a formal local healthy food plan tailored to Central Brooklyn and advocate for policy changes to make healthy, local, and affordable food more available to New Yorkers.
Under this grant, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation will offer technical assistance to local business owners on how to source local food items. It will also create a network of anchor institutions—such as retailers, farmers markets, and restaurants—committed to purchasing food from local farmers who are Black, indigenous, and people of color. Finally, it will work with community partners on implementing recommendations from a food hub feasibility study previously commissioned by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Helping to establish the food hub will spark job growth, lead to reinvestment in the community, and improve supply chain opportunities for farmers of color.
NYHealth is also supporting complementary food planning initiatives with Adirondack Health Institute, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester Food Bank of the Southern Tier, Common Ground Health, Equity Advocates, Good Food Buffalo Coalition, and Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative.