Growing Access and Equity
October 13, 2020
The global coronavirus has brought uncertainty and anxiety into people’s lives, workplaces, and neighborhoods, particularly for those who work to improve the health of our communities.
During this difficult time, many organizations across New York State are working tirelessly to keep people safe, especially the most vulnerable. In response, NYHealth is supporting statewide and local efforts to address emerging health care and public health needs in the wake of the pandemic. In 2020, NYHealth awarded the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) a grant to advocate for food policies that are essential to advancing a just and equitable food system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under this grant, MAP partnered with Black Farmers United to support the capacity of Black-led food and farming groups in New York State to advocate for equitable food policies. Black and Indigenous farmers and advocates developed strategies to improve affordable access to high-quality, locally sourced food while also promoting racial equity for financial, land, and other food-related resources. Pathways were created for Black guest workers, migrant workers, and undocumented farm workers to become business-owning food producers, which included making it easier for urban farmers to access empty lots; working with universities to create programs and scholarship programs for Black students pursuing agricultural degrees; and improving data collection to identify who and where the State’s Black farmers are. Additionally, MAP expanded its mobile market program to bring fresh produce to neighborhoods in Buffalo experiencing food insecurity and that lack easy access to a grocery store. Its mobile market now includes online ordering and produce boxes to serve more people in need during the pandemic, as well as offer anyone who identifies as having a financial need a 50% discount on produce, regardless of whether they receive food assistance benefits.