LISC NYC launched its Communities for Healthy Food initiative in 2014 with funding from The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. LISC NYC provided grants, peer learning, training and technical assistance to help community organizations implement healthy food access initiatives. Their goal was to weave healthy food access through all facets of community development, helping bring food markets to neighborhoods that lacked them, educating residents about nutrition and healthy cooking, and creating jobs in food-related sectors. Within two years, the program was supporting five organizations in Brooklyn, Harlem and the Bronx.
Four years later, LISC NYC has released a toolkit to showcase what they have learned. The toolkit is intended to help other community organizations understand the issues and challenges surrounding food access in their communities, create and implement plans to address needs and gaps, engage residents in solutions, find and work effectively with partners, and measure their progress.
Communities for Healthy Food: The Toolkit explains in detail the nuts and bolts of integrating healthy food access and food justice into community development, including the roles of different players, the step-by-step of creating and implementing a plan, fundraising, evaluation and how to engage community members in the work. The toolkit also looks at different ways to incorporate food as a piece of the community development picture, such as establishing new markets and sources of healthy food in neighborhoods, food-centered economic development and advocacy for more equitable healthy food access in food desert neighborhoods.
Projects such as the West Harlem Community Healthy Food Hub and others provide best practices and examples throughout the guide so that readers can learn from the work of LISC NYC and its five community partners: Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, New Settlement Apartments, Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation, and West Harlem Group Assistance.