Cultivating Food Equity

Bangles and Berries, Meena Kadri, 2009, Unmodified

Despite producing 70% of the world’s food, small-scale farmers remain undernourished, as do their neighbors throughout the Global South. Improving food security cannot be done by increasing agricultural production alone; a systems approach is needed to advance access to nutritious, culturally meaningful food. To cultivate food equity, we work with both local stakeholders, such as farm operators, and international influencers, like the UNFAO, studying, developing, and implementing cross-sector policies-in-action.

What is Food Equity?

By Samina Raja

Food equity is the expansive concept that all people have the ability and opportunity to grow and to consume healthful, affordable, and culturally significant foods. In an equitable food system, all community members are able to grow, procure, barter, trade, sell, dispose and understand the sources of food in a manner that prioritizes culture, equitable access to land, fair and equitable prices and wages, human health, and ecological sustainability. Food equity requires that food systems be democratically controlled and community stakeholders  determine the policies that influence their food system.  

What is a Community Food System?

A community food system is the soil-to-soil system that enables the production, processing, distribution, acquisition, and consumption of food, and management of food waste. A CFS depends on natural resources, technologies, cultural norms, governance structures, policies and laws that shape and influence how food moves from farm to plate. An equitable CFS enhances the environmental, economic, social, and health equity of a place and its inhabitants. In the Global South, where hunger and malnutrition remain a pressing problem, community food systems are rapidly changing, creating both challenges and opportunities. Because of its complexity and breadth, community food systems are ripe for transdisciplinary scrutiny and innovation. 

In cities across the United States and in countries around the world, communities lack the ability and opportunity to access healthful, affordable, and culturally significant foods. In particular, food inequity leads to broken food systems that heighten undernourishment and hunger in low- and middle-income countries. 

Articles and Reflections


Developing a new urban agenda in Quito Ecuador at UN Habitat III
Dealing with Disparities in Food Acquisition Practices Among Refugees

Our Working Solutions

Agriculture, F Delventhal Clagett Farm Fall, 2014




This series of policy briefs provides short case studies of these innovative policies. Twelve briefs are available, including the latest one which features the work of Multnomah County, Oregon. Titled 'Leading the Way: A Legacy of Food Systems Planning and Policy Work in Multnomah County, Oregon', the brief explores the policy and planning behind more than a decade of food systems work in Multnomah, Oregon. 
In 2015, eight communities from across the county were chosen as Communities of Opportunity (COO), places where there is significant potential to strengthen ties between small and medium –sized farmers and residents with limited food access. Each case study in the series contains sections highlighting opportunities and challenges within the county’s food system.  The brief summarizes the local public policy environment, including ways in which community-led civic organizations and private entrepreneurs have partnered with supportive county, city, and town governments. The case studies conclude with ‘Ideas for the Future’, a section on key future policy and implementation efforts that can strengthen each county’s food system. Chautauqua County and Wyandotte County case studies have been shared with the communities for broader distribution.
Highlights promising planning techniques used by local governments across North America to promote agricultural viability and/or healthy food access.Three briefs are available, including the latest one on addressing problems in the food supply chain titled Food Aggregation, Processing, and Distribution: The Local Government's Role in Supporting Food Systems Infrastructure for Fruits and Vegetables.
This series translates peer-reviewed journal article on food systems planning for a broad audience of food system practitioners, local governments, planners and policy makers. The first brief, How Food Policy Emerges, is now available.  This brief translates the work in the journal article Rustbelt Radicalism: A decade of food systems planning in Buffalo, New York, originally published in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development

Our Team

Faculty Fellows

Diana Aga

Henry M. Woodburn Professor of Chemistry; Director of Graduate Studies

Department of Chemistry

611 Natural Sciences Complex

Phone: 716-645-4220


So Ra Baek

Assistant Professor

Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Hayes A 19


Martha Bohm

Assistant Professor


319 Hayes Hall

Phone: 716-829-5214


Ying (Jessica) Cao

Assistant Professor

Division of Health Services Policy and Practice, Epidemiology and Environmental Health

268G-H Farber Hall

Phone: 716-829-5369; Fax: 716-829-2979


Roberto Diaz Del Carpio

Clinical Assistant Professor

Department of Medicine

Hertel Elmwood Internal Medicine Center 900 Hertel Ave. Buffalo, NY 14216

Phone: 716-871-1571


Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah

Assistant Professor

Urban and Regional Planning

Alex Judelsohn

Research Associate

Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab

Isok Kim

Assistant Professor

Social Work

667 Baldy Hall

Phone: 716-645-1252


Rajiv Kishore

Associate Professor

Management Science and Systems

325N Jacobs Management Center

Phone: 716-645-3507; Fax: 716-645-6117


Lucia Leone

Assistant Professor

Community Health and Health Behavior

333 Kimball Tower

Phone: 716-829-6953


Sara Metcalf

Associate Professor


115 Wilkeson Quad

Phone: 716-645-0479


Heather Orom

Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies

Department of Community Health and Health Behavior

304 Kimball Tower Buffalo, NY 14214

Phone: 716-829-6682; Fax: 716-829-6040


Harvey Palmer

Chair and Associate Professor

Political Science

514 Park Hall

Phone: 716-645-8449


Samina Raja


Urban and Regional Planning

233C Hayes Hall

Phone: 716-829-5881


John Ringland

Associate Professor


244 Mathematics Building

Phone: 716-645-8773; Fax: 716-645-5039


Sarah Robert

Associate Professor

Department of Learning and Instruction

514 Baldy Hall

Phone: 716-645-4046


Debabrata (Debu) Talukdar



234B Jacobs Management Center

Phone: 716-645-3243


Hua (Helen) Wang

Associate Professor


309 Baldy Hall

Phone: 716-645-1501


Marion Werner

Associate Professor


111 Wilkeson Quad

Phone: 716-645-0475


Wenyao Xu

Assistant Professor

Computer Science and Engineering

330 Davis Hall

Phone: 716-645-4748


Student Associates

Subashni Raj


Urban and Regional Planning

Erin Sweeney

Graduate Student; Graduate Assistant

Urban and Regional Planning and Community for Global Health Equity

Wit Wichaidit

PhD Candidate

Epidemiology and Environmental Health