project leader
Catarina R
location
3703 10th Avenue
(Washington Heights and Inwood)
latest update rss
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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 identify and determine solutions to the food justice issues they see in our community. We aim to empower community members to make positive changes in WHIN around food and land. 

Our programs are free to the community and are offered in English and Spanish, ensuring access for our Spanish-dominant residents. We currently maintain three New York Restoration Project garden plots in the Riley-Levin Children’s Garden where we grow and harvest produce, ranging from cantaloupe, mint, kale, eggplant, tomato, squash, peppers, radishes, carrots, basil, and more. This produce is available for free to community members. During the growing season, we host weekly open garden hours and 4-5 Family Garden Days, where participants learn about urban gardening through hands-on engagement. We also host cooking demos, share healthy recipes, yoga, garden-treasure hunts, and butterfly releases for adults and children alike to build social cohesion amongst our members! Outside of the growing season, the WHIN Food Council hosts a range of monthly workshops and activities for members. We’ve organized film screenings and discussions, a holiday gift-making workshop using sustainable and eco-friendly materials, fermentation workshops, potlucks, and nutrition workshops with cooking demos. We have also hosted guest speakers on food policy, as well as educational presentations on topics such as composting.

We strongly prioritize building partnerships with community organizations whose missions align with our goals and activities. We recently established a partnership with Plant Powered Metro NY (PPMNY), an organization building a movement to educate communities about the benefits of whole food, plant-based diets. We are currently working with them to design a plant-based nutrition workshop series that aligns with the interests of our members to achieve healthier lifestyles and prevent or reverse chronic diseases. 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been sharing resources on our social media channels to address current needs and challenges, such as local opportunities to secure food, local food businesses to support, and calls for volunteering. In addition, we have started sharing an ingredient of the week and asking members to submit photos of what they cooked with that ingredient. All of our communications are bilingual in both English and Spanish. We have also started to host virtual events such as bilingual yoga classes and bilingual plant-based eating workshops with PPMNY.

When you support our work, you're supporting a grassroots, community-led organization that has a steering committee made up of volunteers from the community and one part-time paid administratie coordinator. You're helping an organizaiton where every dollar matters. We partner regularly with other organizations in our community such as Friends of Inwood Hill Park, El Nido, New York Restoration Project, Plant-Powered Metro NY, and Connectemonos.

Thank YOU for fueling our food justice mission!

the steps

  • Maintain a minimum of 3 garden sites across WHIN 
  • Adopt and implement NYRP Garden Growers curriculum at all of our garden sites 
  • Establish a minimum of 5 formal organizational partnerships 
  • Design and implement nutrition workshop series with PPMNY
  • Create new 5-year strategic plan through a participatory process
  • Maintain organizational stability after founder departure
  • Increase annual budget by securing funds from diverse sources 
  • Double the numbers on our email list and social media platforms 
  • Recruit new members, with a minimum of 30% from marginalized groups
  • Implement outreach strategy with texts and calls
  • Expand community food distribution from our garden and any new sites
  • Increased nutritional knowledge and awareness of food industry marketing tactics among community members

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. 

 

budget

Texting/calling tech platform to reach Spanish-dominant community members- $500

Annual Zoom fees for virtual events: $200

Fiscal sponsorship fee: $400

Garden supplies including PPE: $600

Keeping our part-time administrative coordinator employed: $2,800

Workshop supplies that can be mailed to participants: $500



PROJECT FUNDING NEEDED = $5,000
ioby Platform Fee $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%)
(Donation processing fee does not apply to match funding.)
$156
TOTAL TO RAISE = $5,191

 

 

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