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Celebrate Black History Month with University at Buffalo -Student Guide

February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of accomplishments, contributions and achievements by African Americans and a time to recognize their role in U.S. history

Featured Events & BHM Tough Topics

In celebration of Black History Month, the Intercultural and Diversity Center is hosting a number of events throughout the month that celebrate and bring heightened awareness and understandings to African Americans, Africans, and African diasporic cultures.

More information below:

Courtesy: University at Buffalo, Student Guide

For/From: Considering Origins – Spring 2024 Public programs at Hayes Hall

Dr. Samina Raja, founder and director of the UB Food Lab, will deliver a lecture, “Dis)entangling research(ers) from/in place,”
on Feb 14, 2024 at 6:00 PM. The lecture kicks of the school’s public program series at the School of Architecture and Planning – University at Buffalo for spring 2024.
Description of lecture: The theorist and economist Amartya Sen challenges the idea of identity as a solely emergent object. He argues identity constitutes three parts — individual, perceived (by others), and socially engaged (in a particular context) — and that identity is the result of reasoned choices subject to some (minimal) constraints. Drawing on Amartya Sen’s work, in this lecture, Samina Raja reflects on the importance of the identities of planners in making and unmaking spaces and places. For whom do they research, and from where do they draw their frames of inquiry? The identities of the researcher influence the relevance of their research, the rigor of their research, and, ultimately, urban planning as a field of inquiry and practice. Raja will draw on examples of food systems research in the cities of Buffalo (United States) and Srinagar (Jammu & Kashmir) to discuss the epistemological possibilities and challenges of researchers’ positionality vis-a-vis particular places, times, and people. In doing so, she explores the ethical dilemmas researchers encounter when entering, residing, and researching in, and often exiting the places of their planning and design inquiry and practice — places where they may belong or unbelong by virtue of their identities.
Join UB in Hayes 403

Mapping the invisible: Bridging and trusting networks in sustaining the urban food systems

In this new article titled “Mapping the invisible: Bridging and trusting networks in sustaining the urban food systems” in CITIES, ElSEVIER, Dr. Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah and colleagues share five key insights about Buffalo’s food systems:

  • Buffalo’s food system mostly comprises a close-knit network of local grassroots organizations
  • The network has a ‘small world’ effect showing a short chain of actors linking all actors
  • Food advocacy, information sharing, and high levels of trust help sustain and reproduce the network
  • Few actors serve as resource and information hubs and brokers within the network
  • The network tells a story of local self-reliance and co-production among urban growers and grassroots organizations

The article makes visible the social network infrastructure of people sustaining the urban food system in the post-industrial city of Buffalo, NY. It does so by probing how networks are launched and sustained over time, who is responsible for the networks, and to what end. The authors employ a survey to collect data on social networks among actors within the city’s food system. The findings suggest that Buffalo’s urban food system is a constellation of close-knit networks comprised primarily of local grassroots organizations having ‘small world’ effects— that is, short chains of actors within the network link all actors. These central actors rely on their high levels of trust and shared beliefs and vision to socially reproduce, sustain, and strengthen their urban food system through advocacy and information sharing. In sum, we find that Buffalo’s food system story is one of local self-reliance, co-production, and co-dependency among urban growers and other grassroots actors whose day-to-day practices and lived experiences are largely excluded from the municipal government’s policies and decisions.

Read the full article here:

Local Government Food Policy Database

Local Government Food Policy Database: 

Growing Food Connections

The Growing Food Connections Local Government Policy Database is a searchable collection of local public policies that explicitly support community food systems. This database provides policymakers, government staff, and others interested in food policy with concrete examples of local public policies that have been adopted to address a range of food systems issues: rural and urban food production, farmland protection, transfer of development rights, food aggregation and distribution infrastructure, local food purchasing and procurement, healthy food access, food policy councils, food policy coordination, food system metrics, tax reductions and exemptions for food infrastructure, and much more.

Local Public Policy

The Growing Food Connections team defines local public policy as: a course of municipal, county or regional government action in response to public problems or issues.

Policy Types

This database includes a range of policies such as local laws, ordinances, resolutions, motions, orders, and directives, as well as plans, standards, guidelines, tax exemptions and other public financing policies. Policies span different geographic regions, sizes of government, rural and urban contexts, and public issues. In addition to general information about policy type, topic and adoption date, the database includes policy documents, or the adopted policy language for each policy. When available, this database also lists information about the adopting, implementing, and supporting public agencies and non-governmental organizations; funding amount and sources; and policy outcomes – initiatives, programs, projects and other actions enabled, established or supported by the policy.

Submit A Policy From Your Community

Help your community be recognized! If your community has adopted a local or regional government policy that impacts the food system, submit it for inclusion in the database. We are only able to include policies that have been officially adopted by a local government (municipality or county) in the United States.

Policies can be submitted by completing this form.

What about food systems plans and policies adopted outside of the United States?

If you are interested in sub-national policies that are being adopted outside of the United States, please visit this Global Database hosted by the University at Buffalo and RUAF Foundation.


 This database is continually updated. Policies included in this database have not been evaluated. Population categories are based on USDA’s Rural-Urban Continuum Codes.  The database is the intellectual property of the University at Buffalo and partners. 

Local Government Food Policy Database

Our Lab alumni, an MPH student Rose Thomas is featured in UB News: She believes macro-level change can improve the health of marginalized communities.

Understanding Urban Neighborhoods

Published November 15, 2023

By Catherine Donnelly

Rose Thomas, MPH/MSW ’23, believes macro-level change can improve the health of marginalized communities and came to UB to explore her interests through the MPH/MSW program. She took a circuitous path to get here, having switched majors several times as an undergrad. She finally chose to focus on understanding the impact of the environment on health and selected public health for her bachelor’s degree.

“I had many questions about city neighborhoods, like, ‘Why aren’t the sidewalks walkable? Where are healthy food options?’ and ‘How can we make neighborhoods healthier?’” she says.

“I realized I needed to expand my opportunities and chose social work because of how it unravels the history of structural racism and inequities that marginalized groups have faced,” she continues. “I was especially interested in learning more about how I can address these issues through macro social work, like nonprofit management, policy, and evaluation.”

At UB, she started with the MPH portion of her dual degree and then moved into social work courses, leveraging her team-building skills to create a community of peers who studied together.

“I was fortunate to know several other students doing the MPH/MSW, too,” she says. “I think it is a great combination, but the pandemic made it challenging. My advice to other students in this dual program is to advocate for yourself, work with your peers as a collective and talk to your professors.”

Thomas combined her MSW and MPH field placements to work at the International Institute of Buffalo in Survivor Support Services and at the Partnership for the Public Good, a community-based think tank that works on action-oriented research, policy development, and citizen engagement.

Outside of her required field experiences, Thomas also worked at the UB Food Lab and was able to conduct research that evaluated the Healthy Community Store Initiative to ensure the availability of healthy produce on the East Side of Buffalo and improve policies that help urban growers of color to have better access to resources.

“I have always wanted to help people affected by food apartheid. Overall health is impacted by the availability of nutrients, and food insecurity causes a lifetime of stress,” she says. “I loved that this lab reflected my values and beliefs, especially in terms of working on community-led research projects – uplifting the power, voice, and autonomy that community has.”

Before graduating, Thomas won a HRSA Public Health Scholarship for her efforts to strengthen the public health system and decrease health disparities for underserved communities. She also received the Julio Ramirez Memorial Award, dedicated to the late Ramirez and his passion for addressing social issues affecting the health of individuals, families, communities, and populations.

Today, Thomas is a public health consultant for the Ohio Department of Health in Columbus, Ohio. She was drawn to the position because it ensures that state programs for children adhere to health equity principles.

“Most of my experience has been working directly with youth or children,” she says. “Overseeing programmatic efforts on a wider scale is definitely a change, but I am excited to bring my experience with community engagement and evaluation.”

Updating Municipal database

Do you know of a local jurisdiction that has adopted or updated policies related to urban agriculture or land access in the past ten years? The UB Food Lab is updating the municipal policy database Growing Food Connections. The update focuses on urban agriculture, particularly policies impacting land access. If you are aware of any such recently adopted policies, consider sharing them with Growing Food Connections. It will be added to the publicly available database. Please send any relevant information to the UB Food Lab at

Conference Updates: Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning

UB Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab members in action: Carol E–Ramos Gerena and Micaela Lipman presented at the recently held 63rd Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) conference. This year, the ACSP conference was held in Chicago on October 20, 2023.
Carol Ramos presented about her soon-to-be-published paper titled “Regulating Belonging: Contradictions in Puerto Rico’s Agricultural Land-Use Policies.”

Micaela Lipman was the presenting author for the paper titled “Fools, Assets, Criminals, and Leaders: How do comprehensive plans conceptualize youth.”

Leveraging Agriculture and Food Systems for Human Health: Opportunities for Transdisciplinary Research and Training

Leveraging Agriculture and Food Systems for Human Health: Opportunities for Transdisciplinary Research and Training
Keynote by Dr. Samina Raja 
Dr. Samina Raja is delivering a keynote lecture on “Leveraging Agriculture and Food Systems for Human Health: Opportunities for Transdisciplinary Research and Teaching” at Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) Kashmir on  Nov 8 (Wednesday) at 12 AM EST.

The keynote is part of a 6-day grant writing workshop organized in association with the Division of Plant Biotechnology, Department of Horticulture, and K-Lab. More details about the keynote are below:

Title: Leveraging Agriculture and Food Systems for Human Health: Opportunities for Transdisciplinary Research and TeachingVenue: Virtual Classroom, Old Horticulture building, Shalimar

Keynote : Nov 8 (Wed) 12:00 AM EST
Full workshop: Nov 8-Nov 15, 2023

School Health and Wellness Collaborative 10/26/23

 Invitation to the School Health and Wellness Collaborative of Buffalo this Thursday evening, 10/26, rom 5-7 p.m. at D’Youville University Health Hub (301 Connecticut).  You can register here – or via the QR code on the flyer. All are welcome, including and encouraging children and youth.  Come check out…


  • Salad bar + new surprise food item from the Buffalo Public Schools “Farm to School” menu
  • Recycling/composting demonstration and resources by Good Food Buffalo Coalition
  • Circles and community-building by Erie County Restorative Justice Coalition  
  • Info on School Wellness Teams and how to start/join/partner with one by International School #45
  • Staying healthy this school year by BPS Co-Medical Director and pediatrician Dr. Sarah Ventre
  • Interactive discussion on topics led by and for parents and students including school food, mental health, transportation, and more!


Details of the event:

Thursday, October 26th, from 5-7 pm

D’Youville University Health Hub

301 Connecticut St, Buffalo, NY 14213
This session is for students, parents/caregivers, Buffalo Public Schools staff, and community partners.
Dinner will be provided
Questions? Contact us at: