Cultivating Food Equity

A University at Buffalo team at Habitat II in Quito Ecuador.

The University at Buffalo team at Habitat II in Quito, Ecuador

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. 

Samendy.

Meet Samendy Brice: applying design to bridge food access along Haiti, Dominican Republic border

Trainings

Our Working Solutions

Dr. Samina Raja and her team in Kerala, India.

Dr. Samina Raja and her team in Kerala, India

Identifying Needs Testing Options Scaling Up Evaluating Solutions
4/20/20
Plan-REFUGE aspires to understand and mitigate food inequities experienced by small-holder farmers in the Global South. Using a transdisciplinary approach we investigate how small-holder farmers in the Global South adapt their daily living practices in the face of a number of challenges including globalization and climate change. Lessons from on-the-ground experiences are used to inform purposeful community development and planning strategies. The project ensures a Global South to Global South learning exchange as well as capacity building of policy makers both locally and globally through publications and trainings. Plan-REFUGE is a collaborative effort that aims to have multiple study countries including India.
7/6/20
Smallholder farmers produce over 80% of the world’s food but are often poor and food-insecure themselves (FAO, 2014). Food insecurity is linked to a host of diet-related health outcomes, including the so-called “double burden” of deficient and excessive caloric intake. 
2/27/20
At the end of 2014, 19.5 million people were reported to be refugees in the world, and the number has continued to rise.  In 2014, 4,085 refugees were resettled in New York State, with Erie County receiving the highest number. Resettlement is meant to be a durable, long-term habitation solution so refugees can lead full, healthy lives. However, refugees are often resettled in neighborhoods that expose populations to a variety of health risks. 
1/17/18
Presented at the 56th Annual Conference of the American Collegiate Schools of Planning in Portland, Oregon, this working paper, the result of collaboration with researchers at the University of Kashmir, documents how land use change, poor planning decisions, and recent extreme weather events coupled with the arrival of the global food system affect production and consumption of healthy foods, particularly haakh (a green much like collards), in the Kashmir region of India. At the time of the presentation the working paper was a review of the small body of literature and government documents available. 
4/23/20
The annual Global Innovation Challenge is a competition and course open to all undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and nontraditional students focused on developing solutions to some of the major, unsolved global health challenges around the world. For one week, participants engage in team-building and creative problem-solving activities with international experts and UB faculty. 

Our Team

Faculty Fellows

Samina Raja

Co-Director and Founding Co-Lead, Community for Global Health Equity; Co-Lead, Food Equity Team; Project Lead, Plan REFUGE; Professor

Urban and Regional Planning

233C Hayes Hall

Phone: 716-829-5881

Email: sraja@buffalo.edu

Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah

Co-lead, Food Equity Team; Assistant Professor

Urban and Regional Planning and Community for Global Health Equity

Martha Bohm

Associate Professor

Architecture

319 Hayes Hall

Phone: 716-829-5214

Email: marthabo@buffalo.edu

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

Email: ycao25@buffalo.edu

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

Email: rod2@buffalo.edu

Isok Kim

Associate Professor

School of Social Work

667 Baldy Hall

Phone: 716-645-1252

Email: isokkim@buffalo.edu

Lucia Leone

Assistant Professor

Community Health and Health Behavior

333 Kimball Tower

Phone: 716-829-6953

Email: lucialeo@buffalo.edu

Yeeli Mui

Assistant Professor

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

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

Email: horom@buffalo.edu

Harvey Palmer

Chair and Associate Professor

Political Science

514 Park Hall

Phone: 716-645-8449

Email: hpalmer@buffalo.edu

John Ringland

Project Lead, GLASS; Associate Professor

Mathematics

244 Mathematics Building

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

Email: ringland@buffalo.edu

Sarah Robert

Associate Professor

Department of Learning and Instruction

514 Baldy Hall

Phone: 716-645-4046

Email: sarah@buffalo.edu

Debabrata (Debu) Talukdar

Professor

Marketing

234B Jacobs Management Center

Phone: 716-645-3243

Email: dtalukda@buffalo.edu

Marion Werner

Project Lead, Double Burden of Malnutrition; Associate Professor

Geography

111 Wilkeson Quad

Phone: 716-645-0475

Email: wernerm@buffalo.edu

Wenyao Xu

Associate Professor

Computer Science and Engineering

330 Davis Hall

Phone: 716-645-4748

Email: wenyaoxu@buffalo.edu

Student Associates

Sylvia Kelly.

Sylvia Kelly

Graduate Student; Former Graduate Assistant

Urban and Regional Planning and Public Health and Community for Global Health Equity

Carrie Sasche.

Carrie Sasche

Former Graduate Assistant

Urban and Regional Planning and Community for Global Health

Alumni

Zhu Jin.

Zhu Jin

Research Affiliate

Food Systems and Healthy Communities Lab

Judelsohn.

Alex Judelsohn

UB Alumna

Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab

Wit Wichaidit.

Wit Wichaidit, PhD

UB Alumnus

Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Erin Sweeney.

Erin Sweeney

UB Alumna; Former Graduate Assistant

M. Urban and Regional Planning and Community for Global Health Equity

Subashni Raj, PhD

UB Alumna

Urban and Regional Planning

Our work is done in collaboration with many talented community partners. We list these partners on the affiliated project pages.