Metropolitan New York Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty

Approximately 35% of Jewish Americans keep kosher or prefer consuming kosher food, and 83% of Muslim Americans keep halal or prefer consuming halal food.

Data suggest a significant number of these New Yorkers are at risk of food insecurity. Most food banks and pantries do not understand kosher and halal requirements and norms and lack sufficient products with the appropriate certifications. Metropolitan New York Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty (Met Council) supports the expansion of pantries and provides technical assistance to food banks and food pantries that serve kosher and halal foods. This past summer, Met Council convened 70 representatives from pantries that serve kosher and halal foods to document policy solutions, which it shared at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. In 2022, NYHealth awarded Met Council a grant to build a coalition of emergency food providers and other stakeholders to make the case for a State policy agenda that supports a culturally responsive and equitable emergency food system.

Under this grant, Met Council will research and document (1) kosher and halal food needs across New York State; (2) the geographic distribution of food-insecure Jewish and Muslim populations; and (3) community-specific challenges related to infrastructure and policy. It will conduct site visits and surveys to understand the systems and funding models to determine how best to serve food-insecure kosher and halal communities beyond New York City. Met Council will work with a consultant to create actionable recommendations for food pantries, food banks, community groups, and policymakers at the local, regional, and State levels. It will also convene a statewide workgroup that will develop and advocate for statewide policy changes.

Long Term Care Community Coalition

While nursing homes provide critical services, widespread problems exist.

New York is among the states with the highest number of one- and two-star nursing home facilities as rated on a federal five-star quality and safety rating system. These ratings underscore findings from the federal government that New York State struggles to oversee nursing homes, identify substandard care, and ensure that violations of quality and safety standards are corrected. Absent sufficient regulatory oversight and enforcement, residents and their representatives must be informed about care standards, resident rights, and how these rights can be realized. Doing so entails educating and engaging family caregivers to seek improvements in their loved ones’ care through engagement with administrators and policy changes. In 2022, NYHealth awarded the Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) a grant to educate and support older adults, their families, and the ombudsmen that represent them to improve the safety, quality, and experience of long-term care.

Under this grant, LTCCC will develop educational tools and provide trainings to aid families of older adults in long-term care settings, as well as the professionals and volunteers that serve them. It will also create a free toolkit for nursing home residents, families, and advocates that will address issues such as documenting concerns with care and filing complaints with federal and State oversight agencies. LTCCC will disseminate resources, designed by family council representatives and long-term care ombudsmen, to family councils, community-based organizations, and a statewide consumer advocacy coalition. To put these tools to practical use, LTCCC will provide technical assistance to families and train-the-trainer sessions with ombudsmen and other representatives for seniors.

NYHealth is supporting a complementary initiative, focused on legal issues in nursing homes, with a grant to the Center for Elder Law & Justice.

Center for Elder Law & Justice

While nursing homes provide critical services, widespread problems exist.

New York is among the states with the highest number of one- and two-star nursing home facilities as rated on a federal five-star quality and safety rating system. These ratings underscore findings from the federal government that New York State struggles to oversee nursing homes, identify substandard care, and ensure that violations of quality and safety standards are corrected. Absent sufficient regulatory oversight and enforcement, residents and their representatives must be informed about care standards, resident rights, and how these rights can be realized. Doing so entails educating and engaging family caregivers to seek improvements in their loved ones’ care through engagement with administrators and policy changes. In 2022, NYHealth awarded the Center for Elder Law & Justice (CELJ) a grant to educate and support older adults, their families, and the ombudsmen that represent them to improve the safety, quality, and experience of long-term care.

Under this grant, CELJ will identify patterns in nursing home care and elevate concerns through legal practice and policy advocacy. Partnering with Empire Justice Center, CELJ will expand the geographic reach of its long-term care education and legal expertise throughout Western and Central New York. CELJ and Empire Justice Center will collect information from families, ombudsmen, nursing home and hospital staff, and local offices on aging to better understand direct experiences with nursing home care and will incorporate findings into a set of consumer-facing educational materials and trainings. They will also hold outreach events, leveraging LTCCC’s statewide network of aging professionals and advocates. By engaging with families, CELJ and Empire Justice Center will create a referral pipeline for nursing home residents in need of legal assistance and capture trends in families’ experiences with nursing home care.

NYHealth is supporting a complementary initiative, focused on trainings and tools for family members and other health care advocates seeking to resolve concerns and complaints, with a grant to the Long Term Care Community Coalition.

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Most maternal deaths and complications are preventable, but they stem from a complex mix of individual, health system, and societal factors, including implicit bias and structural racism.

Although there is no silver bullet solution to the maternity crisis, doulas are emerging as a cutting-edge strategy. Doulas are trained nonclinical childbirth professionals who provide physical, emotional, and informational support during and after pregnancy and are associated with better maternal and infant health outcomes. However, people of color and people with low incomes are less likely to use doula services because of cost, access, lack of cultural sensitivity, and provider resistance. This past year, New York City Mayor Adams increased funding for maternal and infant health initiatives to $30 million per year, including the new Citywide Doula Initiative (CDI) to expand access to no-cost doula services. Simultaneously, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) is piloting a doula initiative in Queens, filling a gap in the citywide initiative. In 2022, NYHealth awarded ISMMS a grant to leverage the initiative to provide people with low incomes and people of color with better access to doulas.

Under this grant, ISMMS will design trainings and other educational resources to facilitate positive doula-clinician interactions, including simulations to practice skills for patient-centered communication and shared decision-making. ISMMS will also develop best-practice materials on doula integration that can be disseminated throughout NYC Health + Hospitals and peer birthing hospitals. Both the City and ISMMS will capture data on service delivery, patient satisfaction, and cost and health outcomes. They will share their findings with partners across the State and use the data to make the case for government, hospital, and, ultimately, private insurance funding.

NYHealth is also supporting a complementary initiative with a grant to the Fund for Public Health in New York.

Fund for Public Health in New York

Most maternal deaths and complications are preventable, but they stem from a complex mix of individual, health system, and societal factors, including implicit bias and structural racism.

Although there is no silver bullet solution to the maternity crisis, doulas are emerging as a cutting-edge strategy. Doulas are trained nonclinical childbirth professionals who provide physical, emotional, and informational support during and after pregnancy and are associated with better maternal and infant health outcomes. However, people of color and people with low incomes are less likely to use doula services because of cost, access, lack of cultural sensitivity, and provider resistance. This past year, New York City Mayor Adams increased funding for maternal and infant health initiatives to $30 million per year, including the new Citywide Doula Initiative (CDI) to expand access to no-cost doula services. In 2022, NYHealth awarded the Fund for Public Health in New York (FPHNYC) a grant to leverage the initiative to provide people with low incomes and people of color with better access to doulas.

Under this grant, CDI will strengthen the doula workforce and their community-based organizations. The City has already provided basic trainings to doulas on topics like postpartum depression; NYHealth funding will allow for expanded training topics and reach, including more doulas receiving certification as lactation counselors and new areas like providing LGBTQ-sensitive care and navigating hospital settings. Along with these skills-based trainings, FPHNYC will provide administrative technical assistance to assist community-based organizations in managing contracts with the City.

NYHealth is also supporting a complementary initiative with a grant to Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The Hub on the Hill (fiscal sponsor: Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation)

Throughout the North Country and other rural areas in New York State, many households live more than 10 miles from a grocery store and face transportation barriers.

Dollar and convenience stores dominate the market but lack healthy options. Food hubs are recognized as an effective model to support local, healthy food systems and fundamentally serve as intermediaries—receiving food from farmers and producers and getting paid by farmers to manage tasks like marketing, sales, and distribution. In turn, food hubs get paid by the client purchasing the food, who can efficiently deal with one centralized operation. Ten food hubs are in operation across the State, but each hub varies, depending on the unique needs of its community. Coordination among food hubs is lacking; they would benefit from enhanced communication and cooperative agreements as they grow in scale. In 2022, NYHealth awarded The Hub on the Hill, through fiscal sponsor Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation, a grant to expand the food hub serving the North Country and connect emerging food hubs across the State.

Under this grant, The Hub met growing demand from both farmers and clients and achieved greater economies of scale by improving its infrastructure and operating capacity. It developed plans for converting existing space into a receiving, storage, and packing area; upgraded its inventory system to operate more efficiently; increased its farmer and producer bases and partnerships; and cultivated existing and new producers to procure institutional-level quantities of food. The Hub prioritized the growth of its farm-to-school partnerships and Food Is Medicine projects. In addition, the Hub created and formalized a statewide network of food hubs. This work unlocked the potential for food hubs to successfully engage in broader healthy food initiatives and realize the vision for stronger local food systems.

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