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.

48
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

7 Things Your Partner Can Do To Support You When You Have PCOS

Don't be afraid to ask for help or comfort if you need it.

5874

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may not be totally visible to the eye, which makes it a lot harder for your partner to understand what's going on with your body.

If you are in a relationship, it's important that you communicate your PCOS symptoms with your partner. I say "your" symptoms specifically because everyone's symptoms are different.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Watched 'The Social Dilemma' And YIKES, I'm Terrified For The Next Generation's Mental Health

Millennials can remember a time without online social affirmation, but we may be the last ones.

3284
The Social Dilemma / Netflix

I've been in a media job for the entirety of my professional career. From part-time social media internships to full-time editorial work, I've continued to learn how to tell stories, write catchy headlines, and keep people interested. I believe working in media is a big responsibility, as well as a valuable way to advance our world.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

One Indictment, Three Charges, And No Justice For Breonna Taylor

We can't settle for this decision or a system that is fundamentally broken and unequal.

10668

On March 13, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her apartment by police who were executing a "no-knock" warrant. Since then, there have been rallying efforts both in the streets and on social media demanding justice for Taylor and keeping her name known.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

I’m OK With Hooking Up On The First Date, But That DOESN'T Make Me Easy

2020 has been a crazy year. And yet, women being comfortable with our bodies still seems to be a big topic in mass media.

509

I'm an adult. There is no reason I can't have consensual sex with someone on the first date. It does NOT make me easy, and it does not mean I'll have sex with just anyone the first time I meet them.

Keep Reading... Show less

I was so excited to vote in my local primary election in August. I eagerly researched my local candidates, combed the newspaper for profiles and policy positions, and shared infographics on Insta about voting deadlines. I considered myself a keen voter.

Keep Reading... Show less

Nothing! There is no reason to feel guilty about food and nourishing your body. It's time to make peace with food and stop focusing on the "good" or "bad," "right" or "wrong" because food does not have power over you.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down With An Endocrinologist To Ask All My Questions About Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

There are so many moving parts of hormonal health, so I went to an expert.

5849
Anjanette Tan

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is an autoimmune disease that impacts approximately 1 in 10 women. Any woman who has PCOS can attest to the fact that no two cases are the same — there are so many aspects of hormonal health that can impact a woman's reproductive health! For many, PCOS is a trial and error condition, with many doctors' appointments depending on the stage of life the woman is in.

This week I sat down with Dr. Anjanette Tan to get the expert opinion on all my PCOS questions. Dr. Tan is a board-certified endocrinologist who's worked in private practices since 2004. She currently works at the Diabetes and Thyroid Center of Fort Worth, one of the largest all-endocrine practices in the area, where she is the managing partner and head of clinical research.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

This $40 Silk Sleep Mask Gives Me The Best Sleep I've Ever Had — I Never Go Anywhere Without It

Crane And Canopy just redefined the meaning of "beauty sleep".

4317

- Since I can remember, I've always been a light sleeper, with the quietest sounds waking me up, and I regularly wake up with the sun.

- While talking to a gynecologist friend of mine, she mentioned the importance of using an eye mask for quality sleep, which regulates hormonal levels.

- I was serendipitously sent the Crane & Canopy Silk Sleep Mask almost right after that conversation and was honestly reluctant to try it after testing other sleep masks that felt uncomfortable and irritated my skin.

- This sleep mask was extremely comfortable, and for the first time in nearly a decade, I slept in far past when I usually do on the weekends and woke up feeling more refreshed than I can remember — I've worn it nearly every night since then.

The older I get, it seems that sleep becomes an increasingly important topic of conversation amongst my friends and me. Yes, of course we complain about how tired we always are, but the pattern seemed to be a lack of sleep on the weekdays followed by late nights and sleeping in on the weekends without any solution.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

The Self-Care Kit Every College Student Should Have Handy In 2020

Make sure you have everything you need to relieve some tension.

2453

As college students, sometimes life can be overwhelming. Four tests in a week and you only passed one of them? I feel that. Days like that, you just need time for yourself. A time where you're nice to yourself and put your own self-care before anything else.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

The Smile Project Just Launched An Ambassador Program, And I Can't Wait To Get Started

Looking to shift your perspective, be happier, or just get involved in something truly amazing? Look no further.

1844

The Smile Project is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading happiness, founded by Elizabeth Buechele. It all started on a random day in the fall of her senior year. She was driving home from school when this thought crossed her mind: "Day 1: Happiness is…those perfect car rides where the radio just plays all the right songs."

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments