Expanding Language Access for New York City’s Healthy Food Programs
Healthy Food, Healthy Lives
December 14, 2022
People with limited English proficiency often face barriers to food benefits enrollment, food access, and healthy eating programs, resulting in a need for linguistically sensitive strategies to combat food insecurity.
A New York City law requires government agencies to translate materials into 10 designated languages, provide telephone interpretation, create language access plans, and make some translation services available to agencies to meet these requirements. However, nonprofits are not included, so the interpretation and translation services for their programs are inconsistently available, leaving both staff and participants at a disadvantage. GrowNYC estimates that at least half of New Yorkers who participate in its vast range of community-based healthy food access programs could benefit from improved language communication services. In 2022, NYHealth awarded GrowNYC a grant to develop a comprehensive language access plan to improve equitable access to healthy food.
Under this grant, GrowNYC will create the internal infrastructure and framework to implement a comprehensive language access plan in 2024. It will convene a task force comprising organizational leadership, program and administrative staff, and external stakeholders. GrowNYC will conduct a needs assessment of staff, participants in nutrition benefits programs, farmers, language services vendors, and other representatives from the language access community, including individuals with disabilities and those who have limited English proficiency. The plan will describe action steps, resource requirements, policies, and operating procedures to implement across all of GrowNYC’s departments, programs, and facilities such as its farmers markets, urban farms, community gardens, and food hub.