Seeding Food Equity for Public Health

Photo by Douglas Levere

Twenty faculty fellows participated in the 2017 UB Food Equity Ideas Lab workshop, January 23-25, 2017. Teams of 3-5 individuals created innovative, unconventional, dynamic research proposals related to public health and community food systems in the Global South.

These proposals were reviewed by an expert panel. Winning team(s) received seed funding through CGHE, and will be expected to submit their winning ideas for funding to external funding entities following the workshop with support from CGHE leadership. Fellows will also be invited to participate in an edited volume (book) on innovative, interdisciplinary strategies for promoting food equity through community-led policy strategies.

And the winners are...

About the Food Equity Ideas Lab

Application Details

We welcome expression of interest from UB faculty from any discipline. Faculty do not need to have prior experience working in the Global South, or experience working directly on community food systems. Applicants with current or planned projects or in the Global South may indicate interest to work in their region of focus; otherwise, a region of focus will be provided.

Interested faculty must submit CV and an abstract that responds to the following questions in no more than 100 words each.

1) How could your disciplinary/research lens offer a unique perspective for addressing challenges in equity within the food system, especially in the Global South?

2) What do you hope to gain from your participation in the Food Equity Ideas Lab?

3) What is your approach to teamwork?

Faculty may include in their application names of one collaborator guest (student or faculty member from UB or elsewhere) with a rationale for why their participation is important. A selected number of guests will be invited on a rolling basis.

Deadline for submission: Materials must be received by Friday, January 6th at 12pm. Submit your application with subject line “Last Name: Fellows for Food Equity Ideas Lab” to Erin Sweeney at Selected participants will be notified by January 9, 2017.

What is an Ideas Lab?

Modeled after workshops designed by KnowInnovation Inc., ILs are active, creative workshops during which participants develop innovative research ideas. During an IL scholars and scientists gather to articulate, explore, and address a problem that may be outside of their traditional fields of study. With support from trained facilitators, teams of participants bring their unique disciplinary knowledge to develop innovative solutions in response to complex problems.

What is a community food system (CFS)?

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.

What is food equity?

Globally, one in nine people are  undernourished, and the prevalence of hunger is concentrated in the Global South (FAO, IFAD and WFP 2015). Food equity is the 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. In this system, food systems are democratically controlled and community stakeholders can determine the policies that influence their food system.

Our Steering Committee

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


Alex Judelsohn

Research Associate

Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab

Rajiv Kishore

Associate Professor

Management Science and Systems

325N Jacobs Management Center

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


Sara Metcalf

Associate Professor


115 Wilkeson Quad

Phone: 716-645-0479


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


Erin Sweeney

Graduate Assistant

Community for Global Health Equity

Lisa Vahapo─člu

Program Coordinator

Community for Global Health Equity

218 Hayes Hall

Phone: 716-829-2168


Marion Werner

Associate Professor


111 Wilkeson Quad

Phone: 716-645-0475