Global Strategy Group, LLC

By making meals free for all students, Universal School Lunch is a program that improves children’s health and education outcomes. It delinks school food from family income and removes the barriers to lunch participation, such as the stigma and bullying associated with free or reduced-price lunch.

In 2014, NYHealth awarded Community Food Advocates (CFA) a grant to work toward the systemwide implementation of Universal School Lunch throughout all New York City public schools. To further support this project, NYHealth awarded Global Strategy Group (GSG) a grant in 2016 to help advance the goals of CFA’s campaign.

Under this grant, GSG worked with NYHealth and CFA to identify and understand relevant key stakeholders; ensure that the campaign’s messages reach the right people at the right time; and build broad and strong support for Universal School Lunch. Specifically, GSG developed key campaign messages for coalition members and City leaders to share on social media and prepare news pitches for targeted news outlets. In addition, GSG worked with relevant public figures and coalition members to develop an action plan and advise them on maximizing their activities.

Field & Fork Network

A key goal of NYHealth’s Building Healthy Communities priority area is to create healthy communities that lead to more New Yorkers of all ages eating healthy foods, being physically active, and having access to a range of programs that encourage healthy life choices.

Many organizations across the State are doing smart, innovative work that is relevant to NYHealth’s work to improve health in New York neighborhoods. These organizations should be elevating their work and informing key stakeholders at conferences and other convenings in New York and nationally. Yet, because of a lack of resources, they are often unable to do so. To address this issue, NYHealth awarded grants through its Sponsoring Conference Participation in Support of Healthy Communities Request for Proposals (RFP). Through this RFP, NYHealth sponsored community-based organizations, health departments, and other low-resource organizations to attend and present at local, State, and national conferences related to building healthy communities. In 2016, NYHealth awarded Field & Fork Network a grant to participate in this initiative.

With NYHealth funding, Field & Fork Network sent its Double Up Food Bucks program coordinator to attend the Northeastern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference, an annual conference that brings together practitioners from the farm and food systems comprising the 12-state northeast region. This year’s conference theme was “It Takes a Region” and aimed to tackle longstanding, complex issues in food systems. The program coordinator presented a session, “USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program: Expanding Access to Local for All.” The session highlighted Field & Fork Network’s collaboration with networks on both local and national scales, the evolution of the Double Up Food Bucks program, and 2014–15 program findings.

View a complete list of conference participation grantees.

Wellness in the Schools

In New York City, one in five kindergarten students and one in four students from low-income families are obese. Childhood obesity impacts children’s long-term health, as well as their academic performance.

To address this pressing public health issue, Wellness in the Schools (WITS), in partnership with the New York City Office of SchoolFood, has developed Alternative Menu, a program that enables schools to provide more home-made food with fresh ingredients and healthier menu options. However, this program can be difficult to implement without proper culinary training of cafeteria staff and student engagement. In 2016, NYHealth awarded WITS a grant to help provide the necessary training for implementing the Alternative Menu program in New York City public schools.

Under this grant, WITS hosted a culinary boot camp for City public school cafeteria workers to provide them with the culinary skills and tools to successfully implement Alternative Menu. Specifically, WITS offered a three-day boot camp to train attendees on key culinary skills, including basic cooking techniques, knife skills, storage and organization of fresh produce, advance prepping, and menu planning. Additionally, WITS monitored and engaged with each participating school on a monthly basis to check on progress and troubleshoot any problems that arise. To evaluate this project, Tisch Center for Food, Education, and Policy at Teachers College tracked the amount of fruits and vegetables used across participating schools and compare consumption patterns among control schools, schools with the Alternative Menu program, and schools that participated in the boot camp.

New York University School of Medicine

Without the necessary resources to perform sophisticated health surveillance, Sullivan County Public Health Services is limited in its ability to target and prioritize initiatives to help improve health outcomes for the county’s residents, of whom more than 80% live in rural regions.

Accurately capturing and estimating health surveillance data to pinpoint the health needs of residents is often too costly or labor intensive for most rural health departments. To address this issue, New York University School of Medicine’s (NYU) Health Geographics Research Initiative has developed a method for using data to create highly detailed and localized maps of disease burden. In 2016, NYHealth awarded a grant to NYU to work with Sullivan County Public Health Services on developing and validating its method to enhance rural health surveillance.

Under this grant, NYU partnered with Sullivan County Public Health Services to demonstrate NYU’s health surveillance method for identifying local hot spots of disease burden. Specifically, NYU conducted a countywide health survey in Sullivan County—the largest ever performed in the county’s history. NYU used emergency claims data from the New York State Department of Health, existing geographic health data from Sullivan County, and address data for county residents to conduct a geospatial analysis and create detailed maps of specific health issues pertinent to Sullivan County Public Health Services. Sullivan County Public Health Services used the maps to inform its health priority setting and intervention planning. NYU disseminated the study results to the general population in Sullivan County and published its findings in peer-reviewed journals, and worked with other rural health networks to demonstrate the value of this work and encourage those networks to replicate it.

Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism

As the nation’s media outlets face shrinking budgets and shoestring staffing, resources for journalists’ continuing education and professional development are limited. Increasingly, reporters are assigned to multiple beats rather than to one specific issue area, so their knowledge of any one area may be relatively superficial.

The Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, the supporting nonprofit organization for the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), aimed to fill that knowledge gap through an annual four-day national conference that attracted approximately 600–800 reporters, editors, and producers, as well as health care luminaries. The conference covered a wide range of issues, both content-focused (e.g., covering the progress under the Affordable Care Act, health care disparities, aging and long-term care) and skills-focused (e.g., understanding how to read medical studies or interpret hospital quality data). In 2016, NYHealth awarded the Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism a grant to support AHCJ’s 2017 cohort of New York State Health Journalism Fellowships.

Under this grant, AHCJ provided fellowships to 12 journalists in New York State to cover registration, lodging, and a travel stipend for AHCJ’s April 2017 national conference in Orlando, as well as a one-year AHCJ membership. AHCJ worked with NYHealth to establish criteria for the cohort of participating journalists. AHCJ then recruited the applicants and selected fellows based on an application form, résumé, work samples, and employer support or a client recommendation. At the conference, the New York State fellows attended workshops and sessions meant to deepen journalists’ understanding of the health topics they are called upon to cover most: health policy; consumer health; social determinants and disparities; medical research and education; and the business of health care.

NYC Bike Share LLC

Bicycling is a simple way for people to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives and help fight obesity and its related health conditions. Citi Bike’s bike-sharing program has the largest membership and highest ridership of any such program in North America.

In New York City, it offers a discounted membership for some low-income residents. Although Citi Bike has made cycling more accessible to many New Yorkers, adoption among low-income residents has been slow, despite its discount program. A recent survey among New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents found that most people have not tried Citi Bike and did not know about its discounted membership option. In 2016, NYHealth awarded NYC Bike Share (NYCBS) a technical assistance planning grant in support of efforts to promote and grow Citi Bike’s discount program among NYCHA residents in East Harlem and Two Bridges, two of NYHealth’s Healthy Neighborhoods Fund sites.

Under this grant, NYCBS laid the groundwork for a campaign in 2017 that raises awareness of Citi Bike’s discount program among residents in East Harlem and Two Bridges. Specifically, NYCBS partnered with the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (BSRC) to develop a community engagement strategy to increase ridership in these neighborhoods. BSRC has been instrumental in building up bike sharing and the discount program among low-income residents in its community. Together, these two organizations developed strategies for identifying and building relationships with other local leaders, residents, and stakeholders in East Harlem and Two Bridges in anticipation of promoting the 2017 campaign.