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Can a Food Justice Movement Improve Nutrition and Health? A Case Study of the Emerging Food Movement in New York City


In response to increasing obesity, diabetes, and food-related contributions to climate change, many individuals and organizations are mobilizing to advocate for healthier and more just local and national food policies and systems. In this report, we describe and analyze the food movement in New York City, examine tensions within it, and consider its potential role in improving health and nutrition. We conclude by suggesting that public health professionals can amplify the health effects of such movements by creating opportunities for dialog with movement participants, providing resources such as policy-relevant scientific evidence, documenting problems and evaluating policies, and offering technical, political, and organizational development expertise.

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We thank the individuals listed below who participated in the June 2010 workshop at Hunter College on the NYCfm or suggested changes in drafts of this paper. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the view of our institutions or the participants in the workshop.

Agnes Molnar, Aine Duggan, Alexandra Hanson, Alison Cohen, Ana Garcia, Andrew Rundle, Arlene Spark, Benjamin Thomases, Christine Yu, Dennis Rivera, Devanie Jackson, Gail Gordon, Isabel Contento, Jan Poppendieck, Javier Lopez, Jenifer Clapp, Joe Holtz, Jon Deutsch, Kathy Goldman, Kim Libman, Kristen Mancinelli, Lauren Dinour, Monica Gagnon, Mark Dunlea, Melissa Cebollero, Mo Kinberg, Nadia Johnson, Nancy Romer, Peggy Shepard, Robert Jackson, Sabrina Baronberg, Sarita Daftary, Tom Angotti, and Triada Stampas.

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Correspondence to Nicholas Freudenberg.

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Freudenberg, N., McDonough, J. & Tsui, E. Can a Food Justice Movement Improve Nutrition and Health? A Case Study of the Emerging Food Movement in New York City. J Urban Health 88, 623 (2011).

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  • Food environment
  • Social movements
  • Food policy
  • New York City