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Harlem's new health hub is really cooking

LISC's newest Community Healthy Food Hub in Harlem is creating a buzz, as features on TV news channel NY1 and in the online journal City Limits attest. A fresh take on the traditional food pantry, the hub is part of LISC's "Communities for Healthy Food NYC" initiative, operating in four of the city’s neighborhoods. It offers one-stop-shopping—bringing together key services like nutritional counseling, free, high quality groceries, cooking classes and access to food stamps—to make it easier for West Harlem's low-income families to live healthier lives.

The excerpt below is from:
"To Fight Food Injustice, We Need More than Just Groceries"
by Colleen Flynn, LISC NYC and Rick Luftglass for City Limits

By some measures, Harlem is booming. Storefronts that were boarded up several years ago now host upscale restaurants like Lido, 5 & Diamond, and Melba’s. Whole Foods plans to open a store on 125th Street next year. But what are the food options for the neighborhood’s longtime, low-income residents?

West Harlem still has areas of extreme poverty, and many residents lack access to stable and nutritious sources for food. More than 30 percent of people in the community live below the poverty line, 13% are unemployed, and one in four households rely on food stamps.

West Harlem's Community Healthy Food Hub
West Harlem's Community Healthy Food Hub

A NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene study found that one in six restaurants in Harlem is a fast-food restaurant and just 3 percent of corner stores in Harlem sell leafy green vegetables, compared to 20 percent on the Upper East Side.

Across the city, hunger is increasingly a challenge for low-income New Yorkers. A recent survey by the NYC Coalition to End Hunger found that the city’s emergency food providers (such as food pantries and soup kitchens) reported a 10 percent increase in the need for their services, with the fastest growth in demand from families with children.

And even where there is access to healthy food, that alone is not a solution. Continued[+]...