Strategies to Advance Health Equity: State and Local Health Departments’ Role in Improving Food Access among Immigrants
Vegetables Spilled Out of Brown Bag

Course Objective

  • Explain the rationale for expanding public health practice to promote health and equity by supporting immigrant access to healthy, affordable food
  • List the major public anti-hunger programs and summarize the eligibility rules that apply to different legal categories of immigrants
  • Describe how individual beliefs, organizational practices, and policies contribute to inequitable access to healthy food and public food benefits between immigrant and US-born populations
  • Explain at least two specific local or state Health Department initiatives designed to improve access to healthy food and food benefits among immigrant populations that could be adapted to the participant’s community
  • Explain how local health departments can leverage “upstream” strategies, including partnering with other agencies, social movements and community organizations, to protect and expand immigrant access to food benefits and services

Date: May 19, 2018

Nicholas Freudenberg
Distinguished Professor of Public Health
City University of New York School of Public Health

Emily Franzosa
Senior Researcher
City University of New York School of Public Health

Emilia Vignola
PhD Candidate
City University of New York School of Public Health

There are currently more than 40 million immigrants living in the US, contributing to our society as workers, taxpayers, caretakers, and neighbors. Many of these immigrants are more likely to be poor than US-born people because of cultural, language, and legal barriers that influence their living and working conditions and access to services. One consequence of this poverty is food insecurity, or not having enough healthy food, which has serious implications for health. As public health professionals, we work to prevent harm and reduce health inequities. When members of our communities struggle to access healthy food, they are at risk for health problems. But they are also limited in their ability to contribute meaningfully to society, which affects all of us. To meet our national health goals, local health departments must work to ensure that everyone in our communities has the opportunities and resources they need for good health – regardless of immigration status.

In this module, participants will:

  • Explore specific challenges immigrants may face in accessing healthy food at the individual, organizational, and policy levels
  • Consider real-world examples of how local health departments can partner with other agencies, community organizations, and activists to overcome these barriers and help immigrants access healthy, affordable food for themselves and their families
  • Strategize about how to adopt similar initiatives in their community and organization
Region 2 Public Health Training Center