Category Archives: News and Events

Event | Juneteenth | June 19

UB Food Lab celebrated Juneteenth at the Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion last week.
Revisiting a piece by the UB Food Lab team titled “Sustenance, Resistance, and Revolution
Black Women and Food Justice” on Juneteenth.
Black women have used, controlled, and shaped food spaces to their families’ and communities’ advantage for hundreds of years in the United States. From the first enslaved women brought to New Amsterdam in 1619 to women today, powerful Black women have used food as a lever for social transformation. Black women’s food-related agency has spanned from the kitchen table to policy circles, though this agency is often overlooked in research, policy, and popular discourse. This Juneteenth we reflect on the historic contributions and present-day work of Black women to advance food justice in East Buffalo and beyond.  Read the full article here

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.

National Planning Conference | Reunion for equity | April 13, 2024

Reunion for equity! The extended Food Lab family of team members, alums, and partners (including American Planning Association (APA) Food Division, University of Wisconsin Madison, University of Washington, Urban Fruits & Veggies) were at the 2024 American Planning Conference in Minneapolis, arguing for centering equity in planning for urban agriculture. The events built on and celebrated the legacy of Jerry Kaufman, the father of food systems planning.
Speaking to a packed house in two back-to-back events attended by more than 200 people, Branden Born, Allison Piggery DeHonney Piggery DeHonney, Marcia Caton Campbell, Domonique Griffin, Alexandra Judelsohn, Ben Kerrick, Alfonso Morales, Najahla Olumiji, Samina Raja, Molly Riordan, and partners urged planners to pay attention to ethics in food systems planning – and really, in all planning.
Stellar research and design work done by UB Food Lab students, Kate Hayes and Zane Longwell.

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


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: