Building up the political power of food access organizations across NY state.
Advocacy is more important than ever.
In cities all across New York State, nonprofits and local organizations are working at a grassroots level to help underserved communities get access to healthy and affordable food. But many of these organizations don’t have the funding, resources, knowledge or connections to effectively advocate for their work, missing out on critical opportunities to influence government policy and funding decisions.
That’s why Equity Advocates is working to help build up a community of powerful advocates and leaders within the food movement.
We provide policy analysis and education, advocacy training, and coalition building services to support organizations with the tools they need to be strong advocates for their work.
Through this work, we are helping to build a nonpartisan grassroots movement to ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of race or income, can access and afford healthy food.
A problem we can solve
Disparities in healthy food access
Too often race and socioeconomic status impact who does and does not have access to healthy food. There are two key factors that contribute to a lack of healthy food access in a community and we’re working to address both of them:
Almost 1.5 million New Yorkers live in areas with limited supermarket access. Accessing healthy food is especially challenging for those living in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color. For individuals in these communities, getting to the supermarket can mean traveling long distances—a feat that can be expensive and prohibitive without a car. Even when healthy food options are available in these communities, the quality and variety are often lacking. There is a statistically significant link between the ethnic makeup of a neighborhood and the number of fast food restaurants. In the US, there are 2.4 fast food restaurants per square mile in majority black neighborhoods compared to 1.5 fast food restaurants per square mile in majority white neighborhoods.
Even if low-income individuals have physical access to healthy food, they often can’t afford it. Disparities in social determinants such as wealth, poverty and low socioeconomic status exist across racial and ethnic lines and can contribute to poor health outcomes. In 2017, the average black household made $39,490 while the average white household made $61,372. Studies have shown that convenience stores like bodegas found in large numbers in cities across New York typically charge 11 percent more than larger supermarkets for the same good. Researchers at Harvard have also found that healthier diet patterns—for example, diets rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts—cost significantly more than unhealthy diets. On average, a day’s worth of the most healthy diet patterns cost a person about $550 more per year than the least healthy ones.
A critical lack of representation
When it comes to fighting for food equity, advocacy is one of our most powerful tools. Many organizations don’t have the funding or bandwidth to advocate for their communities, missing out on critical opportunities to influence government policies and funding decisions. That’s why Equity Advocates provides policy education, advocacy training, and coalition building services to empower these organizations with the knowledge, support and resources they need to be strong advocates for their work.
We’re building a powerful coalition
We will help organize food movement leaders into a Coalition of Advocates that will:
Influence significant policy and program decisions.
Our government representatives decide where and how to direct resources. They can offer incentives, support and assistance for programs. They can write new policies or change them. But they can’t know what’s best for our communities without our input. That’s why we need to have a strong voice in government – to ensure that officials are working to create policies and programs that support food equity.
Affect vital funding decisions.
Every year, our government representatives make decisions about how to divide budgets to best serve the needs of their communities. By having a seat at the table, we can make sure the key decision-makers have our members needs in mind as they sit down to make their funding decisions.
Create a more diverse coalition of leaders.
All across New York State, a diverse and dedicated community of nonprofits are working to combat the disparities in healthy food access. And yet, the diversity of these communities is not adequately represented in the policymaking process. Without representation, their voices, their priorities and their needs are not being heard. We can change that by empowering our grassroots leaders–the people working and living in these communities day in and day out–with the tools they need to become powerful advocates for their work.