Equity Advocates’ Pursuit of Food Justice 

by Sycamore May

Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Name: Equity Advocates

What They Do: Equity Advocates is dedicated to increasing the capacity of nonprofit organizations to address the underlying causes of food inequity through policy and systems change. Since 2019 they have partnered with community food leaders in New York who provide critical services  that address immediate needs within our communities. But, in order to create truly resilient food systems, the city needs policy solutions that are driven by the communities most impacted by hunger and food inequity. Policy change is a proven strategy for creating long-term, systemic solutions that address the persistent barriers to accessing and affording healthy food in low-income communities along with community-supported food systems. However, elected officials can’t know what is best for communities without direct input from nonprofit leaders and the communities they serve. To that end, Equity Advocates provides New York-based food justice leaders with the tools they need —including policy education, advocacy training, and coalition leadership–to be more effective advocates.

How They Do It: Equity Advocates works to provide food justice nonprofit leaders with  the skills, resources, knowledge, and practices to  address the root causes of food insecurity through policy and systems change. Their goal is to put women and BIPOC leaders on the front lines of changing food policy in order to ensure  that grassroots advocacy solutions to food insecurity are advanced and that the policymaking process is more equitable and inclusive. Their work has two complementary components:

  1. Policy Training: Equity Advocates leads an annual series of advocacy workshops designed to give nonprofit leaders the skills needed to further their missions through policy change. To date, they have held more than 100 hours of training to build advocacy skills and tools for 1,800 partners. 
  2. Movement Building & Organizing: Equity Advocates provides coalition leadership, including strategic policy guidance and infrastructure support for food systems coalitions. Since early 2020, their organizing efforts have focused on convening the NY Food Policy Alliance, a multi-sector group of 70+ food system stakeholders who work together to identify local food policy challenges and opportunities, coordinate city-wide food policy initiatives, and build community and political power. 

Mission: Equity Advocates partners with New York-based organizations working to alleviate hunger and poverty, providing them with the tools they need to be more effective advocates—including policy education, advocacy training and coalition leadership.  

Latest Project/Campaign: The NYS Farm Bill advocacy campaign. The Farm Bill is a federal law renewed every five years that has a huge impact on our land, our food, our health, and our climate. Right now, Congress is drafting the new Farm Bill, which expired in September 2023 and has been extended through September 2024. In 2022 Equity Advocates partnered with Black Farmers United NYS and Food for the Spirit to seize this once-every-five-year opportunity to reshape the food system and build upon lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the importance of local food systems and supply chains. Together these organizations co-led a months-long series of listening sessions, prioritizing hearing from Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) farmers, producers, and food system practitioners across New York State. More than 300 New Yorkers shared their views on how the new Farm Bill could better support them in terms of land access, urban agriculture, climate change, nutrition, regional food systems, and more. The resulting policy platform represents the collective voice of NYS food leaders, farmers, gardeners, land stewards, producers, and advocates. Equity Advocates continues to educate and mobilize communities across New York State to advocate for a 2024 Farm Bill that invests in urban and regional supply-chain and food infrastructure, brings justice for BlPOC farmers, nourishes people by expanding access to SNAP, invests in urban agriculture and land access, and more. 

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Major Funding: N/A

Profit/Nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: N/A

Interesting Fact(s) About How They Are Working to Positively Affect the Food System: Equity Advocates focuses on collaboration and relationship-building across sectors to build political power and advance meaningful policy change. Their organizing is done in partnership with 70+ community partners who focus on urban agriculture, community gardening, farmers markets, emergency feeding programs, food-based cooperatives, value-chain infrastructure including food hubs, incubators, and community land trusts, and more. 

Equity Advocates works in partnership with East New York Farms!, Green Guerillas, Teens For Food Justice, and the Youth Food Justice Network to host a Train-the-Trainer series, a two-day workshop that equips youth food justice leaders with the tools and knowledge of policy and advocacy to share with their peers, colleagues and families. Through a series of workshops, youth leaders learn about the workings of city government and its influencers, assess and articulate policy priorities from legislative bills, prepare for impactful meetings with elected officials, and enhance their public speaking and testimony delivery. Equity Advocates also encourages youth leaders to engage in the City budget process by submitting testimony and/or meeting with elected officials to advocate for funding for urban agriculture initiatives.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Equity Advocates launched the NYC Food Policy Alliance comprising a diverse coalition of food system stakeholders aiming to address systemic injustices. Their focus spans emergency feeding programs, benefits access, community gardens, farming, nutrition education, and more, with an emphasis on marginalized voices. This alliance advocates for policy changes at city, state, and federal levels to combat hunger, promote healthy food access, economic justice, and food sovereignty in low-income communities across New York. They’ve grown to engage 75+ stakeholders and are establishing a local Food Policy Council, with a committee conducting extensive research, outreach, and planning efforts. Their vision emphasizes intersectionality, community engagement, political empowerment, and governmental accountability. Through partnerships and public briefings, they strive to raise awareness and support for equitable food policies in New York City.


  • Location: 258 Halstead Ave #613, Harrison, NY 10528
  • Number of Full-Time Staff: 2
  • Number of Volunteers: N/A
  • Areas Served: New York
  • Year Started: 2019
  • Executive Director: Leah Eden  
  • Contact Information: info@nyequityadvocates.org

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