Study examines community food environments

July 18, 2017 | Press Releases & Announcements

Dr. Nick Freudenberg

Dr. Nick Freudenberg

Dr. Nicholas Freudenberg, a Distinguished Professor of Public Health at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, and colleagues did a case study on how the interaction of community food environments with inequitable allocation of power, wealth, and services helps shape the distribution of diet-related diseases and food insecurity. Their findings were published in the Journal of Urban Health.

In this case study the authors described how one Central Brooklyn community organization, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, launched multiple coordinated food initiatives in order to reduce the burden of food-related health problems and boost community development.

The case study sought to answer questions such as how can early child care feeding programs become a catalyst for changing local urban food environments; how can food hubs contribute to improved access to healthy food, increased employment opportunities, and sustainable community economic development; what are the shared interests and the conflicts in improving food environments and health for young children among early child care programs, healthy food programs; how to ensure the longer-term sustainability of these initiatives in Central Brooklyn and elsewhere; and what local, state, and federal policies block or help sustain comprehensive approaches to early childhood nutrition and local food distribution?

Using standard case study methodology, the research team showed two distinct elements intersected and reinforced each other, a program that brought fresh food to 30 child care centers, and a food hub that sought to make fresh local food more available in Central Brooklyn. The case study also showed how organizational, community, and municipal resources and policies in some cases supported these initiatives and in others served as obstacles. Finally, the case study shows that multiple coordinated strategies have the potential to empower low-income Black and Latino communities to act to make local food environments healthier and more equitable.

Dr. Freudenberg explains, “Our case study of the Bedford Stuyvesant Development Corporation shows that community development corporations and other community organizations rooted in low-income neighborhoods can play a key role in creating healthier, more equitable local food environments.”


Silver, M., Bediako, A., Capers, T. et al. J Urban Health (2017).