In Network News

The Healthy Food Healthy People work group aims to end food disparities in the Niagara Falls community through resident-driven action and policy.

Niagara Falls, NY – Field & Fork Network announced today that it has been awarded a $50,000 grant, from General Motors, to propel workforce development and training programming related to the local food system of Niagara Falls. The grant will immediately focus on a planning and piloting phase to provide a better understanding of the needs and interests of local food systems’ employers and potential employees. The project will be nurtured by Healthy Food Healthy People, a work group that is focused on increasing food access by strengthening the local food system.

According to the American Community Survey (2015), the City of Niagara Falls had 18,601 jobs available for a population of 48,896; that is one job for every 2.6 people. One-third of the available jobs pays less than $15,000 per year. The lack of jobs and lack of a living wage presents great challenges for residents in Niagara Falls to provide their families with financial stability and access to healthy meals. Healthy Food Healthy People, a work group established out of the Create A Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative and in partnership with Field & Fork Network, hope to encourage residents to understand the value of, be able to, and choose to eat healthy foods.

When asked about their support for the program, Hal Garling, program officer for GM Corporate Giving, said “General Motors supports the communities where we have operations and with nearby facilities in Western New York and Canada, we are supporting the Field & Fork Network in equipping individuals with essential skills to gain secure employment in a competitive economy while positively impacting the local food system.”

Healthy Food Healthy People, started in 2013, and is comprised of over 35 community organizations and residents who have developed the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan to affect policy from the street up to government levels. The plan is strategically broken down into four key frameworks – agriculture, economic development, education, and healthy neighborhoods – each with several actionable and resident-driven objectives.

“The Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan has been a resident-guided process and is a resident-driven approach to strengthening the local food system,” said Tom Lowe, project director of the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan. “The workforce program, funded by General Motors, will be no different and will be informed by residents and other community stakeholders.”

Healthy Food Healthy People is currently working with Buffalo Moose Group, a local consultant group, to finalize an overarching strategy for moving forward. This process includes resident surveys and focus groups to direct the focus of the implementation process which will result in a strategy road map for the work group. Residents of Niagara Falls are encouraged to get involved now by lending their insights. Participants will be rewarded for their service by being entered into a sweepstakes drawing for one of 12 gift cards valued at $50-$250. The drawing ends February 15th, with winners to be announced on the 19th. To take the survey and read the full Niagara Falls Food Action Plan, please visit http://bit.ly/PRsurvey2021.