Fresh Foods for Healthier Neighborhoods in Syracuse

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. However, stark disparities persist by race and ethnicity, and communities of color experience disproportionately high rates of food insecurity and diet-related disease. The communities most affected by these disparities often have the best solutions to improving food equity. However, systemic barriers often exist, and historically, organizations led by people of color have not had equal access to or benefited from traditional philanthropy funds and resources. In 2024, NYHealth issued an inaugural Request for Proposals (RFP), “Healthy Food, Healthy Lives: Supporting a More Equitable Food System,” to advance racial health equity in the food system. NYHealth awarded Food Access Healthy Neighborhoods Now (FAHNN) a grant to participate in this initiative. 

Under this grant, FAHNN will advocate for the return of a full-service grocery store and continue its weekly, year-round farmers market to provide necessary food access in the absence of a full-service grocery store on the southside of Syracuse. FAHNN will produce and distribute marketing and outreach materials to advertise farmers market hours and products; offer customers nutrition incentives; and provide stipends to market supervisors 

See a full list of grantees working to advance racial health equity in the food system. 

Healthy Food Access to Support Maternal Health

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. However, stark disparities persist by race and ethnicity, and communities of color experience disproportionately high rates of food insecurity and diet-related disease. The communities most affected by these disparities often have the best solutions to improving food equity. However, systemic barriers often exist, and historically, organizations led by people of color have not had equal access to or benefited from traditional philanthropy funds and resources. In 2024, NYHealth issued an inaugural Request for Proposals (RFP), “Healthy Food, Healthy Lives: Supporting a More Equitable Food System,” to advance racial health equity in the food system. NYHealth awarded Black Women’s Blueprint (BWB) a grant to participate in this initiative. 

Under this grant, BWB will expand and formalize its Food Is Medicine program to support maternal physical and mental health through nutritional, farm-fresh foods. BWB will partner with Brooklyn Packers, a food hub cooperative, to distribute farm-fresh foods and expand its reach into New York City. It will use its Sistas Mobile Van to expand community outreach methods and distribute fresh bags of produce and other food items that support maternal and post-partum health. BWB will also coordinate registered dietitians, integrative nutrition coaches, and in-house educators to provide workshops, cooking demonstrations, and educational community events focused on improving maternal and reproductive health outcomes.  

See a full list of grantees working to advance racial health equity in the food system. 

Supporting Refugee and Immigrant Farmers in Central New York

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. However, stark disparities persist by race and ethnicity, and communities of color experience disproportionately high rates of food insecurity and diet-related disease. The communities most affected by these disparities often have the best solutions to improving food equity. However, systemic barriers often exist, and historically, organizations led by people of color have not had equal access to or benefited from traditional philanthropy funds and resources. In 2024, NYHealth issued an inaugural Request for Proposals (RFP), “Healthy Food, Healthy Lives: Supporting a More Equitable Food System,” to advance racial health equity in the food system. NYHealth awarded Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE) a grant to participate in this initiative. 

Under this grant, RISE will expand its community farm by creating systems to aggregate and distribute produce grown by refugee and immigrant farmers. RISE’s Agriculture Program supports 19 refugee and immigrant farmers to independently manage 3 acres of land on its 180-acre farm property. RISE will increase the reach of produce grown and donated by refugee farmers to community members each season. It will coordinate with the Central New York Regional Market Authority, Brady Farm, and Salt City Harvest Farm to increase income opportunities for RISE farmers through facilitated market and donation channels. RISE will also hire community liaisons from the refugee community to provide interpretation services and help coordinate the farmers’ sales.  

See a full list of grantees working to advance racial health equity in the food system. 

Research Foundation for the State University of New York

In New York State, more than 410,000 older New Yorkers have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and 50,000 more older adults are projected to develop the condition by 2025.

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, early detection allows for treatment to manage symptoms and disease progression; enables older adults to make their own care decisions before cognitive decline; and promotes planning to maximize independence and quality of life. But there are many gaps in identifying older New Yorkers at risk, and too many do not receive proper support until they are in crisis. These negative effects are particularly acute for people with low income, people of color, and rural New Yorkers. New York State’s Office for the Aging sites are well-positioned to be part of the solution. Syracuse University’s Aging Studies Institute, in partnership with SUNY Upstate’s Department of Geriatrics and with support from the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York, launched a successful pilot in 2019 to train case managers from the Onondaga County Office for Aging to administer an evidence-based tool to screen for early signs of cognitive impairment. In 2024, NYHealth awarded the Research Foundation for the State University of New York (RFSUNY) and SUNY Upstate a grant to expand and embed this comprehensive screening and referral model for early cognitive impairment into New York State’s Office for the Aging sites throughout Central New York. Syracuse University will lead the project’s evaluation.

Under this grant, SUNY Upstate and Syracuse University will build on the success of the pilot and partner with the Office for the Aging to embed the screening and referral protocols into case managers’ workflows at sites in seven additional counties in Central New York. It will train case managers and site staff to screen clients using an evidence-based tool to assess for early signs of cognitive impairment and dementia. Each office will formalize a referral system with SUNY Upstate’s Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease (CEAD) to refer older adults who screen positive for cognitive impairment for a comprehensive evaluation. Using evaluation findings and feedback from participating sites, SUNY Upstate will create a publicly available training manual and video and share results with policymakers, area agencies on aging, and others to support the replication of the program.

 

Clear Path for Veterans

New York State is home to nearly 600,000 military veterans and welcomes an additional 4,000 each year who are transitioning from active duty into civilian life.

For new veterans, the transition from military service to civilian life can be an extra challenge, as they may also face relocation and a perceived loss of purpose. Despite challenges, veterans often do not ask for help until a crisis and may be reluctant to speak with someone they believe would not understand their circumstances; they can feel more comfortable opening up to a fellow veteran. That dynamic makes peer-to-peer programs an effective approach; peers are equipped to offer practical skills and information, as well as shared experience, social connection, and hope. In New York State, the most widespread peer mentor program for veterans is the State’s flagship Joseph P. Dwyer Peer Support Program; it reduces isolation, increases social connectivity, and connects veterans with community-based resources. In 2022, the State roughly tripled the overall program budget and paved the way for the program to expand statewide. In 2024, NYHealth awarded Clear Path for Veterans a grant to maximize the impact of the State’s investment, expand high-quality veterans’ peer-to-peer services, and formalize a statewide peer mentor coalition to spread best practices and educate policymakers about ways to sustain and spread effective programs. NYHealth is also supporting a complementary initiative with the Hudson Valley National Center for Veteran Reintegration.

Under this grant, Clear Path will build on its expertise as one of the State’s top-performing providers of the Dwyer Program across seven Central New York counties. It will conduct outreach to engage veterans in its newly launched mobile peer mentor program, reaching 15 additional counties. Clear Path will also use its mobile van to reach veterans in a variety of community settings to connect them with peer support and resources. It will identify and partner with a New York State academic institution to further evaluate its peer mentor services, with a focus on identifying replicable program elements and tactics that other peer mentor programs can adopt. Clear Path will also partner with the “We Are Dwyer” coalition to compile and disseminate best practices and evaluation results with stakeholders. It will provide technical assistance and training to peer mentor providers who are interested in starting a new program or strengthening existing services, covering topics such as learning how to apply for State Dwyer funding; ways to standardize program elements and metrics; targeted outreach; and mentor/mentee recruitment and matching. 

Integrity Partners for Behavioral Health IPA

There is a mental health crisis among youth and young adults, as well as a growing and related concern in adolescent substance use, including abuse of alcohol, tobacco, opioids, and other drugs that can lead to addiction.

In 2020, among 12–17-year-olds, more than 8% reported using drugs in the past month, 10% used alcohol, and nearly 3% met the criteria for illicit drug use disorder in New York State. More teens are also dying of drug overdoses, with the rate nearly doubling between 2019 and 2020 across the country. Substance use disorder often co-occurs with mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation, and it can trigger or worsen these symptoms. Studies show that one of the most effective treatments for substance use disorder integrates family into the treatment process—known as family behavioral therapy. This approach improves communication and problem-solving skills and enhances positive family interactions to foster a supportive and healthy environment for recovery. It often results in better long-term outcomes compared with other approaches. In 2023, NYHealth awarded Integrity Partners for Behavior Health IPA (IPBH) a grant to integrate family members into behavioral health care interventions for adolescents with substance use disorders in Western and Central New York.

Under this grant, IPBH will test the family behavioral therapy model at 21 rural behavioral health sites across 14 counties in Western and Central New York with the aim of creating a replicable and cost-effective model that promotes sustained substance use recovery. It will conduct a readiness assessment among participating practices to implement family behavioral therapy, training 24 licensed therapists on the model and treatment protocol. Clinical staff will recruit patients ages 10–19 with substance use disorder to participate in the family behavioral therapy program. They will offer 12–16 family sessions on topics such as communication, conflict resolution, problem-solving, and environmental factors. To track recovery of patients, IPBH will measure the frequency of substance use among adolescents and the changes in family functioning. Additionally, IPBH will educate health and social service providers across the 14 counties on family behavioral therapy practices. It will establish referral pathways for adolescents who need additional services, including other recovery services, education, health care, housing, and food, creating a holistic network to support young people and their families toward recovery. Lastly, IPBH will partner with the University at Buffalo to track activities and outcomes across the provider network. It will share findings and best practices through peer-reviewed publications and conferences to encourage other provider networks to integrate family-based therapies in rural communities.

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