The Next Generation Of NYCHA
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

The Next Generation Of NYCHA

Why healthy food environments are ground zero for a better quality of life.

The Next Generation Of NYCHA
Wikipedia Commons

On the afternoon of Feb. 23, the New York City Housing Authority optimistically shared key changes in its operating model to improve the quality of life for its residents. Dozens gathered at the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute in Harlem for a forum to learn how the combination of economic empowerment and the cultivation of healthy food environments is the key to success.

Shanna Castillo, Director of NYCHA’s Office of Resident Economic Empowerment and Sustainability (REES), cited a shift in NYCHA’s operating model from “direct services” to “a service coordination model.”

“We need to structure programs that work well for residents,” she explained to audience members.

Howard Husock, Vice President for Research and Publications at the Manhattan Institute, cut quickly to the heart of the issue. More than half of NYCHA residences are in what the city defines as “food deserts,” or areas lacking easy access to fresh, nutritious food. Residents are either forced to spend time and money commuting to a supermarket, or settle for lower quality food available in the area. Either way, the communities’ quality of life is reduced.

According to Dr. Christine Caruso, Assistant Professor of Public Health at Eastern Connecticut State University, a study she conducted at NYCHA’s Queensbridge Residence revealed, that in addition to food deserts, tense relations between residents and their local supermarket made for a poor food environment as well. Even when food was easily accessible, poor quality usually negated convenience.

“Folks felt really exploited and vulnerable,” she stated during her speech.

Despite such grim data, panelists eagerly discussed recent NYCHA and partner organizations’ initiatives to improve its food environments, and empower residents along the way.

Andrea Mata, Director of Community Health Initiatives at NYCHA, talked about the benefits of the Farms at NYCHA program, where AmeriCorps NYCHA residents build and tend to urban farms. She explained that program “graduates” learn a variety of skills to make them competitive candidates for employment, such as carpentry work and nutrition education. Other residents benefit from the easily accessible fresh produce.

“The partners envision these farms as outdoor community centers,” stated Mata.

Colleagues Bill Fink and Prudence Thomas of SCAN-NY, a youth and family service organization that operates in East Harlem and the South Bronx, discussed the success of “Café Express,” a pop-up café at the Lehman Village residence. Currently run by three high school seniors, the program built off the existing cooking relationships between older and younger residents. The organization hopes to replicate the program at other residences and inspire young people to get involved.

“They could become leaders who become voices of the community, and be the voice for what they want to see,” explained Fink.

Castillo ended the forum with a speech on Food Business Pathways, a program designed to help NYCHA residents turn informal food businesses into legitimate sources of income. After honing their entrepreneurial skills in the program’s accelerated curriculum, graduates receive their food handler’s license, access to a commercial kitchen, and free business coaching. So far, 72 graduates have started businesses of their own, an overwhelming majority women from the African American and Latino communities. The program also hopes to add a track that focuses on the child care sector soon.

While the forum did discuss successful initiatives currently at work to improve the food environments of NYCHA communities and empower its residents, Husock believed there’s still more that can be done. Part of his solution included the construction of supermarkets in the largely undeveloped space between NYCHA high-rises to improve accessibility.

“It’s time for NYCHA to be more imaginative and make city food deserts bloom,” he stated.

Only time will tell if his proposal will come to fruition. As for improving the NYCHA communities’ quality of life, the seeds have been sown.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series


Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?


Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.


Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less

Take A Look At The Extravagant Lane Woods Jewelry Collection For Valentine's Gift Ideas

So if you are currently looking to purchase jewelry for yourself or as a romantic gift for your S.O., you should definitely look at the marvelous and ornately designed Lane Woods Jewelry collection


Just like diamonds are a girl's best friend, so are pearls, rubies, gold, emeralds, and any type of luxurious jewelry you can get your hands on! A woman is incomplete without a piece of jewelry on her and it is a gorgeous accessory required for all occasions. So if you are currently looking to purchase jewelry for yourself or as a romantic gift for your S.O., you should definitely look at the marvelous and ornately designed Lane Woods Jewelry collection.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments