vegetables at a farm stand
In College of Human Ecology, Division of Nutritional Sciences

A new collaboration between the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business (CSB), the Figueroa Interdisciplinary Group (FIG) Lab in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, and NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s Sustainable Urban Environments Program seeks to map systemic barriers to food and nutrition security. Funded by the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation (MCHF), the project, FoodMap NY: Developing Long-Term Solutions to Food Insecurity in New York Through Private-Sector Engagement and Investment, will also identify barriers to successful farming outcomes, as well as actionable long-term solutions to these barriers, with a focus on small farms, new farmers, women farmers, and BIPOC farmers in New York State (NYS). The project will result in a new landscape-analysis white paper and specific plans for novel public–private pilot programs. This research can undergird future work in food security for government, universities, their community partners, and the private sector.

The project is managed by the Invest NYC SDG initiative of the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business (CSB). Invest NYC SDG was awarded a $2 million grant over two years by the MCHF as a special initiative to support continued work on food and health research projects in NYC. The funding will also enable the initiative to expand its work to upstate New York, collaborating with state government, upstate academic institutions, community organizations, and private businesses.

Through the work of FoodMap NY, the NYU Stern CSB team, in partnership with the FIG Lab in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University and NYU Tandon’s Sustainable Urban Environments Program, is working to improve food environments as well as employment associated with food production systems in NYS. The research seeks to promote the ability of New Yorkers to purchase fresh and nutrient-dense foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and nuts/seeds) at both urban and rural markets in NYS and support a healthy lifestyle for all. 

Solutions being explored include subsidized fruit and vegetable programs, non-supermarket food purchasing, and improved food distribution infrastructure. The research will also pilot projects that focus on the creation of stable, green jobs in agrarian communities beyond New York City, including a new generation of farmers/entrepreneurs, particularly women and BIPOC farmers. These jobs will provide affected NYS residents with an increased purchasing power, which enables healthier food purchasing.

After conducting baseline research into the landscape of food and agriculture in NYS, the FoodMap NY team will interview relevant stakeholders, forming working groups to explore specific private-sector solutions and their possible implementations, such as those that fall under the food as medicine framework. Finally, the research team will focus on ways in which private engagement and investment can provide long term, market-based solutions to food insecurity in the form of pilot programs.

The research is led by Dr. Roger Figueroa, Assistant Professor, Social and Behavioral Science in Nutrition in the Division of Nutritional Science, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University; Dr. Alice Reznickova, Industry Assistant Professor, Technology, Culture and Society Department, NYU Tandon School of Engineering; and Wythe Marschall, Senior Research Project Manager, Invest NYC SDG, NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business, in collaboration with NYU Stern, NYU Tandon, and Cornell student–researchers. Invest NYC SDG is directed by Marianna Koval.