Training

Improving Well-Being of Low Wage Food Workers: What Role for State and Local Governments?
Person cutting a grapefruit

Course Objective

  • Identify key threats to the well-being of low-wage food workers
  • Describe the role of policy and programs related to low-wage workers across sectors in reducing or increasing health and other inequities
  • Describe current responsibilities of state and local health departments and other public agencies in protecting the well-being of food workers
  • Identify at least three examples of policy or program initiatives that state and local health departments can undertake to improve the well-being and life chances of low-wage food workers
  • Describe one specific action your agency can take in the coming year to better protect the health of low-wage food workers

Date: June 30th, 2022

Subject Matter Experts:
Nicholas Freudenberg, DrPH, MPH
Distinguished Professor of Public Health, CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy
Director, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute

Emilia Vignola,
PhD candidate, CUNY School of Public Health

Luis Saavedra,
Research Associate, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute


Ensuring and maintaining our nation’s food supply is the responsibility of approximately 19.7 million workers. The U.S. food system – including production, processing, distribution, retail, and service – relies on these workers to ensure the dietary needs of every American. Despite their critical role in our society, food workers are paid some of the lowest wages in the entire workforce, have limited access to benefits, and have high rates of occupational morbidity and mortality. As public health professionals, promoting the health and well-being of low-wage food workers is part of our responsibility to meet key public health goals, including protecting food safety, reducing food insecurity and hunger, preventing occupational illnesses and injuries, and reducing the income inequality that is the fundamental driver of health inequities. In essence, threats to low-wage food workers are threats to us all.

Learners will be able to:

  1. Identify key threats to the well-being of low-wage food workers
  2. Describe the role of policy and programs related to low-wage workers across sectors in reducing or increasing health and other inequities
  3. Describe current responsibilities of state and local health departments and other public agencies in protecting the well-being of food workers
  4. Identify at least three examples of policy or program initiatives that state and local health departments can undertake to improve the well-being and life chances of low-wage food workers
  5. Describe one specific action your agency can take in the coming year to better protect the health of low-wage food workers
Region 2 Public Health Training Center