Neighborhood Fare

Our sixth Forefront Fellowship explores how to foster food equity in every New York City neighborhood through the built environment.

Overview

Many New Yorkers struggle to access healthy and affordable food — a challenge exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fall 2020, 1.6 million New Yorkers were experiencing food insecurity. While food pantries and soup kitchens address critical gaps, neighborhoods need robust local food infrastructure beyond emergency aid.

New York City’s first ever 10-year food policy plan, Food Forward NYC, lays out an ambitious vision to strengthen the food supply chain so that all New Yorkers can access the food they need and want.

Realizing this vision will require new thinking at a neighborhood scale.

Community gardens and food hubs can improve access to culturally appropriate food. Cold storage could expand for bodegas and pantries to supply fresh food. Strengthening distribution facilities, transportation nodes and regional coordination will build resilience in the face of future crises.

Investing in neighborhood food infrastructure can also build community power. Black and Latinx communities that face disproportionately higher food insecurity have long innovated to create alternative systems, from farmer cooperatives to mutual aid networks.

Our 2021 Forefront Fellowship, Neighborhood Fare, explores how to foster food equity in every New York City neighborhood through the built environment.

In Phase I, Fellows will partner with the Department of City Planning and the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy to investigate how city government can strengthen community-based infrastructure to advance food equity.

In Phase II, Fellows will work in independent teams to develop projects that support neighborhood food networks.

How can we improve access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food across the city?

Structure

Phase I: City Agency Partnership
In partnership with the Department of City Planning and the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy, Forefront Fellows will visit neighborhoods across the five boroughs and make recommendations to strengthen community-based food infrastructure. Over three months, Fellows will gather every one to two weeks for daylong workshops to conduct site visits, interview stakeholders, and analyze research findings.

Phase II: Independent Team Projects
Fellows will work in interdisciplinary teams to explore how to build equitable neighborhood food systems. Over six months, teams will conduct research and interview stakeholders, lead an evening event, and develop a changemaking independent project.

About Forefront

The Forefront Fellowship is an annual professional fellowship dedicated to cultivating emerging leaders in urban design, development, policy, and advocacy.

Each year, an interdisciplinary cohort of 25 Forefront Fellows investigates how design can address a social or political challenge facing New York City. Over the course of 10 months, Fellows explore wide-ranging approaches to the program topic in partnership with a city agency and through independent projects. Fellows build new skills and knowledge, expand their professional community, and develop meaningful projects with impact beyond the fellowship.

Forefront is grounded in an equity-based approach to urban design, which shapes the composition of each cohort, the selection of program theme, and the ethos of the program.