Food, Nutrition, and Health

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Long Island Food System Report Card

The Long Island Food System Report Card was developed through a partnership between Sustainable Long Island and Adelphi University’s Vital Signs, a research arm of the Center for Health Innovation (CHI). The report card is the first comprehensive assessment of Long Island’s food system and offers a baseline profile of its sustainability across three domains: Economic, environment and equity.

Long Island Food System Report CardLong Island Food System Report Card: Assessing the State of Long Island’s Food System
- Full Report Card (PDF 2.5MB)
- Press Release

The report card tracks the performance of 31 food system indicators, highlighting data trends as well as relationships among sectors of the food system. Indicators are rated based a five point color scale from dark green (highest rating) to red (lowest rating). Ratings and data findings then inform recommendations for a safe, fair, and sustainable food system and serve as the platform for subsequent community discussions about policy and program development.

Long Island is a region with a rich food culture, reflected in its long history of farming and fishing, its ever-growing mix of national cultures and foodstuffs, and its burgeoning local food movement. It is also an important contributor to the state’s food economy. Yet, the food system is not as robust as it could be, given the range of resources and assets available to us. Challenges to the food system exist at every level and are broad-based, threatening economic, environmental and social sustainability. The Report cards findings and recommendations are a first step toward addressing these issues and creating a thoughtful, proactive, and integrated approach to act in the region’s best interest so that we can secure a more sustainable future.

The Food Inequality Project

We created the Food Inequality Project to study food access and health on Long Island. The purpose of the study is to generate new knowledge that can inform programs and policies to increase access to nutritious food and improve health among the region’s disadvantaged populations and communities.

The Truth and the Facts: Food Inequality on Long IslandThe Truth and the Facts: Food Inequality on Long Island
Full Report (PDF 1.6MB)
Executive Summary (PDF 348KB)
Media Advisory (PDF 106KB)
Photovoice Slideshow (PDF 3.6MB)

The report – “The Truth and The Facts: Food Inequality on Long Island“- represents the first comprehensive look at the social, economic, and emotional dimensions of food poverty. While we have some quantitative data on the numbers of people who are food insecure, we know very little about what it looks and feels like to be food poor, particularly in a region so well known for its affluence. And while we are able to map the location of food retailers across the area, we have little firsthand information about how people actually negotiate their food environments:

  • Why do they access food where they do?
  • What do they do when they have no money for food?
  • What choices do people really have?
  • How do these experiences affect self-perception and community dynamics?
  • How do these experiences impact feelings of power or powerlessness and outlooks on the future?
  • In what ways do people think their lives and their communities can be improved?

These are some of the questions that require answers in order to think through new strategies not only to feed but to empower Long Island residents.

To answer these questions, the report focuses on one Suffolk County community–the Mastics and Shirley–which has been devastated by the Great Recession. The report is driven by the perspectives of 35 research participants whose narratives highlight the manner in which economic insecurity and community issues intersect to affect experiences with food. It is also punctuated with nearly 30 telling photographs taken by participants to show what it looks and feels like to be food poor.

fresh baked breadMethods for this project involve:

  • Key informant interviews
  • Community resident interviews
  • Ethnography
  • The participatory action research method Photovoice

The project was made possible by iSoRCE funding from Cathy Nelkin Miller and Patrick Smalley.

Student Films about Food and Nutrition

As part of their coursework, and in partnership with iSoRCE, students in the Adelphi University course Communications 450: Documentary Production were asked to produce, film, and edit short videos concerning food and nutrition on Long Island. The videos are intended to increase public awareness about food justice issues.

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