Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Get Involved: Results from the Food, Faith & Health Disparities Summit

As the Thanksgiving holiday nears and we prepare for a day full of food and family, I wanted to take a moment to reach out to everyone who both took part in the Food, Faith, & Health Disparities Summit as well as those who registered but were unable to attend.

The Thanksgiving holiday is a time when food disparities come in full view. Some of our neighbors are unable to prepare a healthy meal for their family either due to the cost of healthy produce in their neighborhood supermarkets, the lack of fresh produce in their neighborhood supermarkets, or the lack of a neighborhood supermarket all together.

On Friday, October 29th and Saturday, October 30th, people from all five Boroughs came together to develop actions to take that would help create a more healthy and just NYC. I wanted to recap the summit as well as let you know how you can get involved in this movement!

Over one hundred people came out to the Riverside Church of NY on Friday night to kick-off the Food, Faith & Health Disparities Summit. It was a night packed with inspirational performances by Charmaine DaCosta and Christopher Cero as well as powerful speakers. Moderated by NY Faith & Justice Executive Director Lisa Sharon Harper, the evening featured speeches by the Rev. Dr. James Forbes, senior Pastor Emeritus at The Riverside Church of NY; Cecil Corbin-Mark, Director of Policy Initiatives at WeAct for Environmental Justice; Dr. Nick Freudenberg, Director of Hunter College’s Dept. of Public Health; Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, author of Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet & and an environmental policy consultant with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability; and Carolyne Abdullah, Director of Community Assistance at Everyday Democracy.

Friday evening set the stage for a very active day on Saturday, October 30th. Over 150 people filled out eight dialogue circles that were formed to take part in a series of four facilitated conversations aimed at coming up with a series of actions that could be taken to combat the food and health disparities that affect so many of our communities. After completing this series of conversations, all eight groups came back together for the action forum.

During the action forum the group from Everyday Democracy reviewed all eight group’s list of actions and produced a list of six actions that were consistent with all of the groups. Working groups were then formed around each action. These groups are charged with meeting over the next six months to a year in order to develop and move on each action.

Below is a list of these six groups along with a brief explanation of each one. If you have not signed up for one of these working groups and would like to get involved, please contact Stephen at stickner@nyfaithjustice.org and let him know you would like to join the fight in creating a more healthy and just New York City.

Community Engagement

This group aims to find creative ways to get faith communities, schools, and community groups engaged in hands-on activities to make NYC neighborhoods more healthy. This could take the form of helping communities start co-ops, community gardens, or band together to develop centralized CSA’s.

The Farm Bill

This group will focus on the U.S. Farm Bill. They will focus on shifting subsidies from soy, corn and sugar to fruits and vegetables.

Food & Voter Education

This group will focus around educating the public on both political leaders’ positions and records on issues of food and health and on upcoming laws, ordinances or government actions that will have an impact on the food system of NYC. In addition, this group will inform faith communities, schools and community groups about how they can take personal and organizational responsibility to make healthy food choices.

Incentives for Purchasing Healthy Food

This group will focus on working to get NYC to incentivize the purchase of healthy food for people receiving government assistance.

The Living Wage

This group will organize around the effort to get a living Wage Bill passed in NYC. This group will especially focus on making sure food workers are a part of this bill.

Business Outreach

This group will focus on getting the business community involved in helping to create a more healthy and just NYC. It will work at getting businesses to support various programs around New York City that promotes health and healthy living. This could mean the launch of another Food Summit focused on building bridges between faith, advocates, and business communities.

We had a very successful Summit, now it’s time to put all of our talk to action!

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