project leader
Eman F
3703 10th Ave
(Washington Heights & Inwood)
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the project

Since 2016, the Washington Heights/Inwood (WHIN) Food Council has been organizing community members around food justice in Uptown Manhattan. We create a space for residents to come together to identify and determine community-oriented solutions to the food justice issues we see in our neighborhood. We aim to empower community members to make positive changes in WHIN around food and land. 

We launched three successful and still very active programs in 2021 as a response to the pandemic. We recognized that we quickly needed to re-strategize to address the growing food insecurity and social isolation our members were experiencing. We launched:

  • Farm Share Distribution: We offer FREE fresh, locally grown, high quality groceries to food insecure families in Washington Heights and Inwood. In partnership with the Dominican Women’s Development Center and Grow NYC, we host a bi-weekly food distribution in a farmer’s market style for participating families to pick up their groceries. We offer a variety of ingredients in every distribution including vegetables, fruits, herbs, beans, eggs, grains, and flours for families to be able to prepare nutrient dense and calorie sufficient meals. Our program is unique compared to other pantries and emergency food sites because our priority is providing families the same fresh, high-quality ingredients you can find at your local farmer’s market. In 2021, we started with just 10 families and over the last 2.5 years have supported over 250 adults and children. Since we launched, we’ve distributed over 6,000 pounds of produce and food to our community ALL for free. 
  • Grow from Home: We established a community of home food gardeners when our outdoor garden shut down due to quarantine! Over 75 families have participated in GFH during the last three years to work on their green thumbs by growing food right in their own kitchens. Families successfully grew mushrooms, a variety of herbs, and microgreens which they were able to eat, all while sharing their journey in a private community group we built online for this program. Through the group, our members could also connect with other participants and directly reach our garden coordinators for support, share pictures, and ask questions. Because of the overwhelming interest, we hope to expand this program into classrooms to work with teachers and reach even more young people. 
  • Scholarships: We provide financial support to remove barriers for community members interested in pursuing training and education around growing food and healthy eating. We’ve supported 4 students over the last 3 years pursue training related to urban gardening, and 6 students to participate in Plant Powered Metro New York's 21-Day Jumpstart, a program to help individuals and their families transition into a plant-forward diet and learn how to heal or prevent chronic diseases using food as medicine. 

In addition, during the growing season we maintain several garden beds at the Riley Levin Children’s Garden in partnership with the New York Restoration Program. We grow and harvest a range of produce from cantaloupe, squashes, strawberries, tomato, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, ginger, and so much more. Everything from the garden is given to community members for FREE. We host 4-5 Community Garden Day events to invite the neighborhood during the growing season to tour our garden space, support with planting and harvesting, and engage in fun health and wellness activities such as cooking demos, yoga, zumba, and arts and crafts to help build community and improve social cohesion. In the past, we’ve also hosted educational panels, fermentation workshops, documentary screenings, and community potlucks during the colder months.  

We strongly prioritize building partnerships with other local organizations and groups whose missions align with our goals and activities. We know we can not do this work alone. When you support our work, you’re supporting a grassroots, community-led initiative made up of volunteers who have committed to making a positive impact to the neighborhood. Every dollar matters! Thank YOU for fueling our food justice mission!


the steps

  • Identify new families to participate in our Farm Share Distribution. Focus on outreach to seniors especially.
  • Design new Grow from Classroom program to support teachers interested in integrating food growing into their students’ curriculum.
  • Grow culturally relevant produce in the garden beds to donate to fridges, schools, and surrounding neighbors. 
  • Recruit additional Steering Committee members, volunteers, and a new administrative coordinator.
  • Conduct evaluation of programs and develop an impact report from 2021-2023.
  • Advocate for new, additional food growing spaces in Washington Heights and Inwood.

why we're doing it

We do this to serve our community and address systemic inequities we see. According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, WHIN is a designated environmental justice area. According to the Community Health Profile published in 2018 by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), a majority of WHIN residents identify as members of minority groups (72% Hispanic, 7% Black, 3% Asian). Access to affordable housing and employment opportunities with fair wages and benefits are closely associated with good health. However, nearly 20% of residents live in poverty, while another 12% are unemployed, which is higher than the city’s 7% unemployment rate. Over half (53%) of WHIN residents are also rent burdened, which means that households pay more than 30% of their income for housing and may have difficulty affording food, clothing, transportation, and health care. Another way to consider the effect of socioeconomic status on health is looking at death rates across neighborhoods. According to the DOHMH, if the death rates from five of the richest NYC neighborhoods were achievable in WHIN, it is estimated that 12% of deaths could have been averted in our community.

In studying the food environment, bodegas are generally less likely to have as many healthy options compared to supermarkets. The lowest supermarket to bodega ratio in NYC is one supermarket for every three bodegas. In WHIN, for every one supermarket, there are 13 bodegas. Additionally, the food retail environment can also be measured by the number of supermarket square footage (per 100 people). In NYC’s best ranking neighborhood, there is 450 supermarket square footage, compared to only 119 in WHIN, ranking it 43rd out of NYC’s 59 community districts. 

So, how do all these social determinants affect WHIN residents’ health outcomes? A little over a quarter (26%) of residents are obese, which is significantly higher than Manhattan’s 15% overall average. Similarly, WHIN residents experience higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. This data indicates that members of the WHIN community bear a disproportionate burden of negative health outcomes compared to other neighborhoods in NYC. There is a close correlation between health and the environment. It is the WHIN Food Council’s mission to improve the food landscape and green spaces in upper Manhattan to make it easier for residents to make healthier choices and thus enjoy a higher quality of life. 




Final budget


Farm share distribution- $3000 (30 families for 5 months of support, bi-weekly deliveries)

Garden program activities (GFH, GFC, Riley-Levin, Expansion)- $2,000

Scholarship- $1500

Community events, workshops- $1487.63

Fiscal sponsorship fee-$2000

Total: $9,987.63

TOTAL RAISED = $10,713.81
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) $535.69
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $190.49

Original budget

Farm share distribution- $6000 (30 families for 10 months of support, bi-weekly deliveries)

Garden program activities (GFH, GFC, Riley-Levin, Expansion)- $4,000

Scholarship- $3000

Community events, workshops- $2000

Keep our part time administrative coordinator employed- $3000 (4 months)

Fiscal sponsorship fee-$2000

ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee 5% $1,078.17
ioby Donation Processing Fee 3% $485.18
TOTAL TO RAISE $21,563.34

Donation processing fees apply to donations only. 100% of match funding goes to projects. Please note, fees are estimated here and final numbers may change based on the final amount raised and amount of match funding applied to this campaign.



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