Seeding Food Equity for Public Health

Food Equity Ideas Lab, Photo by Douglas Levere.

Food Equity Ideas Lab, 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.

Proposals were reviewed by an expert panel. Winning teams received seed funding through CGHE, and will be expected to submit their winning ideas for funding to external funding entities following the workshop. 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...

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?

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

Former Assistant Professor

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


Alex Judelsohn

Programs Manager

Global Health Equity

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


John Ringland

Project Lead, GLASS; 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.

Erin Sweeney

UB Alumna; Former Graduate Assistant

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

Lisa Vahapo─člu

Volunteer Team Member

Community for Global Health Equity

Marion Werner

Project Lead, Double Burden of Malnutrition; Associate Professor


111 Wilkeson Quad

Phone: 716-645-0475