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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:

UB alumna leads Buffalo Freedom Gardens

UB alumna leads Buffalo Freedom Gardens.

By CHARLOTTE HSU Published July 13, 2022


Summer is here, and with the arrival of the growing season, an initiative called Buffalo Freedom Gardens has given dozens of residents of Buffalo’s East Side neighborhoods a free raised bed garden.

On a Saturday in June, volunteers including UB Food Lab members joined Freedom Gardens founder Gail V. Wells to make the last of this year’s deliveries.

The team packed cedar wood planters, each expected to last at least a decade, into a U-Haul truck, along with bags of soil. Freedom Gardens recipients also get seeds and vegetable seedlings, garden gloves, a bright green watering can, and instructions on caring for the plants.

Each garden is a thing of joy — and an act of liberation, says Wells, a UB alumna who remains connected to the university community.

She points out that food has long been central to movements for freedom: “For Black people who are descendants of kidnapped and enslaved Africans, the way we could secure our safety and our families and build an economy for ourselves was first based on us being able to feed ourselves,” she says.

Black Women and Food Justice: A post for Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion, Buffalo, NY

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.
Enslaved Black women labored in the domestic food space and in the fields. Slave owners restricted access to food as a method of control, giving Black families the unwanted scraps. Thus, Black communities, in particular Black women, had to adapt the foods allowed by white slave owners. To feed their families and communities, Black women turned to the indigenous traditions of North America, including what is now known as Southern Barbecue, traditions incorrectly attributed to white Southern identity. Despite the horrific conditions, enslaved Black people used food to build community, even when community building was a powerful and dangerous form of rebellion. Through food, Black people created sustenance not only for the body but also for the soul.
During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, food became a marker of cultural heritage, something valued as a connection to African ancestry. Quickly, Southern Black people used soul food to create a southern identity, in a place of deep segregation. Soul food and, more importantly, home cooked food became central to Blackness and identity, especially as many Black people were forbidden from restaurants and diners. The reclamation of soul food during the Civil Rights Era was nurtured by the identity Black women created around the kitchen table. Many Black women built their selfhood at their mothers’ and grandmothers’ kitchen tables. Thus, the home kitchen becomes more than a space of survival and sustenance; it was and remains the central point of community. In addition to cooking their own food, Black women called on their ancestral traditions of farming to grow their own food. Food activist and leader, Fannie Lou Hamer and her Freedom Farm connected her experience as a Black woman to her agrarian knowledge and her belief in the economic potential of farming for Black communities. Through the home and the land, Black women organized around food to support their communities.
Drawing on the work of Black women within their communities, high profile Civil Rights organizations, such as the Black Panther Party (BPP) began to use food as a tool for revolution and resistance. Indeed, “feeding the revolution” comes from the tradition of Black women who fed their families and communities for survival.
Food is often pushed to the side when considering racial politics, but by understanding the necessity of survival through their history and lived experience, Black women have pushed food to the forefront. They are not agentless people, but rather bodies of resistance using organizing, farming, and entrepreneurship for survival. While not every individual movement is successful, community organizing displays the necessity of self-reliance and forges community networks. In fact, the resistance work ubiquitous in Black food justice movements today can find roots in past and present Black feminist thought and work. As the food justice movement grows, Black women assert their food voices and challenge the status quo, standing on the shoulders of their ancestors.
A display at Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion in Buffalo honored Black women leaders who have inspired and enacted change in East Buffalo’s food system. The women featured in the pavilion included local leaders as well as national leaders. We share brief descriptions of local leaders with you digitally here. Local leaders were nominated by members of the Buffalo Food Equity Network and research was conducted by the Food Lab.
Credits for post:
Shireen Guru – Historical research
Lorna Georges – Design research
The Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion was envisioned by @Jaime Swygert.

Op-ed: East Buffalo Needs Community-Driven Structural Investments, Not Fly-In, Fly-Out Charity

Our team was bombarded by media queries about East Buffalo. We were appalled at the framing of [media] queries, which offered an exclusively deficit-based view of the neighborhood and overlooked the work of individuals and organizations that have been working to strengthen the food system in East Buffalo. We agreed to write this reflection to counter the public and policy amnesia that engulfs the concerns of Black communities in Buffalo. The city’s Black neighborhoods need sustained structural investments, not fly-in, fly-out charity.
The linked Op-Ed captures the views of our coalition of Food Equity scholars with commitment to and relationships with Black-led organizations in East Buffalo (data published with permission of community partners).
Please read the full article here.

Food for Growth (Fall 2003)

The purpose of this planning studio was to create a community food systems plan for the West Side neighborhood in Buffalo, New York.  Students from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning worked on behalf of the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP), a non-profit dedicated to revitalizing urban neighborhoods and improving food security through urban farming and youth leadership development. The students conducted an extensive survey of food stores in the West Side that revealed challenges for residents to access fresh, nutritious foods. The final report made recommendations to strengthen the West Side’s community food system to meet four strategic objectives which include enhancing local food production through supportive land use planning, promoting economic development related to the food system, increasing access to transportation to food sources, and promoting youth development through food-based programming. MAP’s Growing Green program was integral in demonstrating the role of youth in urban farming projects. The report strove to demonstrate the ways in which planning can be used to address food insecurity and strengthen a community food system, and the power of urban neighborhood residents to work towards community revitalization and well-being.

Queen City Gardens Plan Planning for Community Gardens in the City of Buffalo (Spring 2009)

Graduate students in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning PD 525 “Planning for Food Justice” course wrote the plan on behalf of the Buffalo City Council Community Gardens Task Force. The goal of the Queen City Gardens Plan is to foster and protect sustainable community-based garden projects throughout the City of Buffalo. The graduate student team researched the state of community gardens in the City of Buffalo, reviewed municipal policies on community gardens in other cities in the United States, and made recommendations on how best to create and sustain community gardens in the City of Buffalo. The Queen City Gardens plan aimed to provide the task force with information to “enhance the cultural, physical and social environment and provide means for stimulating interaction between community members through the creation and continuance of community gardens”. The plan outlines recommendations to enhance the City’s Comprehensive Land Use and Zoning Code that was in review at the time, and suggests a partnership between City Hall and the greater community to protect and enhance community gardening across the city.

Kid Corridors: An Active Commuting Plan for the Williamsville Central School District (Fall 2009)

The purpose of this planning studio was to develop materials that would encourage and educate children to walk and bicycle to school, and create a “Kids Corridor” plan. Graduate students in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning worked in collaboration with officials of the Town of Amherst, which had received a federal Safe Routes To School grant in conjunction with the Williamsville Central School District. The studio focused on strategies to make walking and biking to school safe and engaging K-8 students and parents in the Williamsville School District as active players in the plan development. The final report recommended the creation of a Town Youth Board subcommittee to oversee the plan and its ongoing development, as well as designating Kids Corridor zones around elementary and middle schools which would be facilitated by policy changes and physical improvements. In addition, the report recommended the distribution of maps of safe walking routes to all parents living within one mile of schools in the district. This project was awarded  the 2010 Outstanding Student Project Award from the Western New York Section of the American Planning Association (WNY APA).

Urban Agriculture and the Next Farm Bill Symposium, Friday Sept. 30

The GW Sustainability Collaborative’s annual symposium brings together policy makers, academics, and practitioners to identify current scientific findings and future research questions in the field of sustainability. This year’s conference will focus on the role of urban agriculture in the forthcoming 2018 Farm Bill. The symposium will take place on September 30th, 2016 from 9am to 5pm in the Jack Morton Auditorium on the George Washington University Campus.  

The event is co-hosted by three organizations – AGree, Michigan State University, and the University of the District of Columbia. AGree’s mission is to drive positive change in the food and agriculture system by connecting and challenging leaders from diverse communities to build consensus, catalyze action, and elevate food and agriculture as a national priority. Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems is committed to research, education and outreach to develop regionally integrated, sustainable food systems. The University of the District of Columbia is the only public higher education institution in DC, and the only urban land-grant university in the nation with a College of Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences, as well as a College of Agriculture.

Featured speakers include Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-9); Elanor Starmer, Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service; Nicolas Jammet, CEO and co-founder of sweetgreen; Debra Eschemeyer, former AGree Advisor, Senior White House Policy Advisor for Nutrition, and Executive Director of Let’s Move!; A.G. Kawamura, AGree Advisor and former California Secretary of Agriculture; Tom Forester, Milan Pact Awards Coordinator; Malik Yakini, director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network; and many more.

Free and open to the public. Please RSVP here! Also livestreaming at Please share this event widely with your networks.

Questions? Please email Ariel Kagan, arielkagan@gwu.eduDisplaying

Alexandra Judelsohn, MUP, Research Associate


Alex is a Research Associate with the Food Lab.  She leads the coordination of the lab’s global projects and serves as the Interim Coordinator of UB’s Communities of Excellence, Global Health Equity. Alex also supports global education projects. Most recently she traveled to India to assist with a studio course focused on sanitation and health equity. Alex is currently conducting research on the food and health experiences of the Burmese community in the City of Buffalo.

Prior to joining the Food Lab, Alex served as the Garden Coordinator for Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo.  Currently, Alex is also the interim Coordinator for the Community for Global Health Equity.

Alex received her Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University at Buffalo where she focused her studies on the link between planning and public health.

Alex can be reached at

Bumjoon Kang, PhD

Bumjoon Kang holds a B.S. and M.S. in architecture (Seoul National University, Korea) and a Ph.D. in urban design and planning (University of Washington).  Starting in Fall 2013, Dr. Kang joins UB’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the ‘Food Lab’. Prior to joining the faculty at the University at Buffalo, he was a research associate in the Urban Form Lab at the University of Washington and a planner/researcher at the Seoul Development Institute (Korea, currently the Seoul Institute).

Dr. Kang has research interests in the relationships between built environments and health behaviors and outcomes. His previous/ongoing research topics include physical activity, food environments, time-geography (continuous spatial exposure), spatial statistics, and GIScience (analysis of large spatial data). His recent work on identification of walking was published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: “Walking Objectively Measured: Classifying Accelerometer Data with GPS and Travel Diaries.”

Dr. Kang can be reached at

To see more of Dr. Kang’s work, see his webpage.