Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Food for Health Program

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

March 23, 2011








Food insecurity, or lack of access to enough nutritionally adequate food, is a major threat to the health of New Yorkers experiencing serious illness or chronic medical conditions such as cancer.

The existing emergency food resources are woefully inadequate at serving the seriously ill. Food pantries are often only open for a limited number of hours per week, which often coincide with patients’ chemotherapy or radiation appointments. Documentation status also complicates matters for immigrant patients, as approximately 65% of the pantries require proof of income and/or a photo ID. The Food for Health initiative is a partnership between NYU School of Medicine’s Center for Immigrant Health and the NYU Steinhardt School (Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health), the Food Bank for New York City, the New York City Council, the American Cancer Society, and the Empire Justice Center. The first of its kind, this initiative assessed and addressed food insecurity among immigrant and minority patients with cancer.

Food for Health was a demonstration project with two components: 1) a medically-tailored food pantry located within a health care facility; and 2) a pilot Food Vouchers for Health program. The program linked the medically ill who screened positive for food insecurity with the hospital-based food pantry, and linked enrollment in Medicaid for Emergency Services with food voucher application approval. Food for Health also provided nutrition workshops for patients and customized nutrition plans based on their specific medical needs.