Food in Focus Series Part I : Future of Food in Harlem

23 Mar
Why the Food in Focus Series

I’ve found myself immersed in several projects concerning food access in NYC. I am excited to be a part of an upcoming forum in Harlem highlighting food disparities and lack of opportunity in the area’s booming food/ dining/ hospitality sector.

This is one of a series of posts on food that I’ll be writing leading up to the Future of Food in Harlem event on May 14th and 15th at Harlem’s Oberia Dempsey Multi-Service Center.

Future of Food in Harlem 
Harlem’s resurgence as a cultural mecca, brings millions of tourists each year. With the lion’s share of all storefront businesses in Central Harlem (let’s say within a half mile radius of 125th Street between 5th and St. Nicholas) established since 2010 all focus on food, liquor and dining . – Most of them catering to mid- to high- end clientele.

New businesses bring jobs and tax revenue that benefit those who are poised and most prepared to benefit from it, based on education, or prior access to the food sector and linkages to important social and economic networks.

Harlem’s illustrious food sector does not benefit the of majority of its citizens. And for far too many households in Harlem, accessing decent food that they can afford is a daily struggle. Low-income seniors and families with small children are especially vulnerable.

In response to these issues, several ad hoc consortiums have formed to research, report and address food disparities throughout Harlem. The results of these collaborations thus far and future programs coming down the pike will be highlighted at an upcoming forum at Central Harlem’s Obreia Dempsey Center this May 2015.

Hosted by Harlem Grown, Connect, Inc, Parsons/ New School design students and professors and WHGA, this two- day forum entitled the Future of Food: Towards Equitable and Sustainable Food Systems Change will feature presentations and interactive workshops lead by Harlem-based food justice activists, social entrepreneurs and youth- leadership organizations as well as partners in university and sector small business.

Major themes include:

Economic Development 
Using social media and web platforms to promote job and business opportunities for unemployed and underemployed residents who cook from their homes.

Creative Activism 
The role of artists and arts education across many forms and media in activating our communities around food systems change.

Corporate Social Responsibility 
How do we support small business while holding them accountable for food that they source, prepare and sell in our communities? How do we ensure fair wages, fair treatment and benefits for their workers.

How might Harlem’s food change agents join global efforts to holding agribusinesses accountable to inequities and and the policy makers that support them?

Fair Trade and Equity 
How we as ordinary citizens support food production that works toward fair trade and equity? (meaning fair wages for farm workers, fairness in land acquisition).

Technology 
Using smart phones to engage communities in collecting and sharing information on food issues we encounter.

The event organizers hope to raise awareness of Harlem’s food disparity while highlighting the work being done to turn things around.

To attend and to stay posted on the presenters register here.

To learn more or to sign up as a presenter contact Tia Wiggins at WHGA , 212-862-1399 ##

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