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Event | 2024 World Refugee Day Western New York


2024 World Refugee Day Western New York

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Front Park, Buffalo, NY

Contact Fardowsa Nor or Najma Farah at or at 315-741-5507

Worldwide about 114 million people are forcibly displaced from their homes due to persecution, human rights violations, and acute and protracted violence (UNHCR, 2023). Our city and region is fortunate to be a refuge for resettled New Americans. In 2023, 1312 individuals were resettled in Erie County. Resettled individuals in Buffalo come from a variety of different places including Afghanistan, Columbia, Guatemala, Myanmar, Somalia, Syria, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ukraine, among others.

In honor of resettled New Americans, our city and region will celebrate the 2024 World Refugee Day (WRD) in WNY on Saturday June 22, 2024. “Building on past WRD celebrations, the day is an opportunity to honor and celebrate resettled individuals and families whose diverse cultures enrich life in Buffalo. This is a day to celebrate courage and healing of people in the face of extraordinarily difficult circumstances,” says Ali Khadum, founder of WRD Western New York. Importantly, the day is designed to promote conversations and support strategies for improved health and wellbeing of New Americans in Western New York.

Co-organized by HEAL International and its partners, 2024 World Refugee Day festivities will take place at Front Park in Buffalo, NY on June 22, 2024, and all are invited. The program includes child- and family-friendly entertainment including a soccer tournament and theme park. Service providers and educational organizations will provide enrichment activities. An area will be set aside for families to have picnics, and a variety of food from different regions of the world will be available for purchase. 

Creating a celebratory space for people of all backgrounds is important more than ever. Expressions of violence against particular groups of people persist globally and locally including in Ukraine, Congo, Gaza, Sudan where people are actively being displaced from their homes (UNHCR and UNRWA). Locally, too, Buffalo witnessed tragic racist violence against Black people on May 14th, 2022. Condemning all expressions of violence, displacement, and hatred toward people, the 2024 World Refugee Day of Western New York celebrates the courage of all refugees, and hopes for a peaceful and free world for all people.  “World Refugee Day in Western New York recognizes all the ways in which New Americans enrich our region, and all the ways in which our community welcomes New American,” said Abdirahman Farah, one of the lead organizers. 

A limited number of spots are available for vendors and service providers to join the World Refugee Day festivities. Organizers are also seeking volunteers for the day of the event (Vendors/service providers and volunteers must sign up by June 18; volunteer orientation will be on June 20, 5:00 PM). 


11:00 AM-6:30 PM Soccer tournament

1:30 PM -6:30 PM Food vendors, service providers, entertainment, and educational services will be present

1:45 PM -2:00 PM Welcome

6:30 PM -7:00 PM Closing

Notes for attendees: We encourage attendees to carpool, ride their bicycles, or walk to the event to cut down on traffic and ensure an environmentally-friendly event. Cars will not be allowed in the Front Park parking lot. We also encourage attendees to bring their own water to cut down on plastic waste. 

Sponsors: The 2024 World Refugee Day is made possible through the generous funding from Community Health Center of Buffalo, Community for Global Health Equity, City of Buffalo Council Member David Rivera, Erie County Legislator April Baskin, Key Bank, Molina HealthCare, The Refugee Partnership, and The West Side Youth Development Coalition. 

Planning Partners: Helping Everyone Achieve Livelihood (HEAL) International, Center for Health and Social Research Buffalo State College, Community Health Center of Buffalo, The Refugee Partnership, University at Buffalo Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, West Side Youth Development Coalition, and others.

Questions? Attendees, prospective vendors, prospective volunteers and media can contact Fardowsa Nor or Najma Farah at or at 315-741-5507

  1. UN World Refugee Day is on June 20. In Western New York, the community is hosting celebrations on the Saturday following UN WRD on June 22, 2024.

New Book Launch: Planning for Equitable Urban Agriculture: Future Directions for a New Ethic in City Building” in honor of food systems planning scholar, teacher, and advocate- Jerome Kaufman

New Book Launch: UB Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab is delighted to announce the publication of a new book “Planning for Equitable Urban Agriculture: Future Directions for a New Ethic in City Building” in honor of food systems planning scholar, teacher, and advocate, Jerome (Jerry) Kaufman (1933-2013). The book explores the potential and pitfalls of planning for urban agriculture, provides case studies from cities across the United States, and documents the state-of-art in municipal planning practice, research, and teaching tied to planning for urban agriculture. Cities featured in the book include Albany (GA), Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Cleveland, NYC, Seattle, and others.


An emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a founding member of the APA Food Interest Group (now APA FOOD), Jerry blended the roles of activist, practitioner (of planning), scholar, and teacher throughout his professional life. Principles of fairness and justice were a central tenet of Jerry’s life and work. Jerry wrote about urban education and race, central city planning, gender in planning, ethics — and, later in his life, food systems. During his lifetime, Jerry did not publish writings that explicitly connected planning ethics with planning for food systems, though there is plenty of evidence that this link nourished his scholarship, teaching, and actions on food systems. The editors of the book surmise that Jerry’s early preoccupation with planning ethics influenced his openness toward food systems, a topic that was largely overlooked in formal urban and regional planning practice. Now, more than 50 individuals – many of whom he trained and worked with – celebrate his legacy by exploring questions of ethics and food systems in this new book. Chapters are written by teams of scholars, planning practitioners, and community advocates to provide a rounded view.

Samina Raja: We hope that the book will be informative for city governments (and policymakers and planning staff) who are aiming to create policy landscapes to support equitable urban agriculture.
Thank you to my fellow co-editors, the 50+ contributors, and hundreds of supporters who made this book possible in Jerry’s honor.

BOOK RECEPTION. You are invited to a book launch reception honoring Jerry Kaufman at the national American Planning Association conference on April 13, 2024. Registration is required (

BOOK ACCESS. Thanks to the generosity of multiple funders, including the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research, University at Buffalo, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Washingtom-Seattle, WNY Foundation and others, the book
is Open Access and can be downloaded from the publisher’s website at:

QUESTIONS? Reach out to APA FOOD Division at

We Want to Eat and be Healthy just like Everybody Else: How Social Infrastructures Affect Nutrition Equity in a Racialized Urban Community in the United States

New article alert: “We Want to Eat and Be Healthy Just Like Everybody Else:” How Social Infrastructures Affect Nutrition Equity in a Racialized Urban Community in the United States.

Authors: Gabby Headrick, Kiera Abdul, Shireen Guru, Allison DeHonney, Alyssa J. Moran, Pamela J. Surkan, Samina Raja, Yeeli Mui.

In this article in ELSEVIER, the authors describe how the use of social infrastructures impacts food security and nutrition equity in a majority Black and urban community in the United States.

Sustained, community-led investment is needed to address structural inequities preventing the advancement of nutrition equity. Social infrastructures should be expanded to support low-income populations inclusively, so wealth generation is possible to address the root cause of food insecurity.

Semistructured in-depth interviews were conducted with 40 low-income, urban, and predominately Black people living in Buffalo, New York in May–July 2022. A thematic analysis using a phronetic iterative approach informed by the Social Ecological Model, Walsh’s Family Resilience Framework, and a framework focused on the advancement of nutrition equity.

Read the full published article here

UB organizations step up to fight against food apartheid in Buffalo

The Food Lab and Food Recovery Network aim to support marginalized communities in Buffalo: Story by JASON TSOI in SPECTRUM- THE INDEPENDENT STUDENT PUBLICATION OF THE UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO, SINCE 1950

Date: March 4, 2024 | 9:10pm EST

For decades, marginalized communities in Buffalo have experienced food apartheid, which Karen Washington, a food justice advocate, describes as the “root causes of inequity in our food system based on race, class, and geography.”

In response to this systemic problem, UB groups and organizations developed community-based initiatives to support marginalized communities.

Samina Raja, a professor of urban planning at UB, has long been devoted to researching food policy and equity. After graduating with a Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Raja became an assistant professor at UB in 2001.

A few years later, Raja founded the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab — better known as the Food Lab — with the support of William McDonnell, who was the chief financial officer of the School of Architecture and Planning at the time.

Read the full article here


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:

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

Critical Food Policy Literacy by Carol E. Ramos-Gerena

Food policies should be informed by those who they intend to serve, but policy-making processes remain exclusive to privileged voices, knowledge, and experiences.

In this article, Carol E. Ramos-Gerena asks: What do people know by becoming food policy literate? And who benefits or loses when a particular definition of food policy literacy becomes the norm? This paper conceptualizes critical food policy literacy for municipal food policy transformations. Click here to read the full article: