On June 3, 2015, the CUNY School of Public Health, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and its Center for Health Equity, the New York City Immigration Coalition and the NYU/CUNY Prevention Research Center hosted more than 120 immigrant rights advocates, policy makers, and public health professionals at the forum, Immigration & Health: Intersectoral Approaches for Advancing Health Equity. The purpose of the Forum was to consider new approaches to improving the health and advancing health equity for New York City’s immigrants and reducing the adverse health impact of immigration policies.
Shiriki Kumanyika, President of the American Public Health Association, and Nisha Agarwal, New York City Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, gave keynote talks and five workgroups developed recommendations for improving the health of immigrants in five topical areas: quality health care, mental health, reproductive and sexual health, food access and occupational health.
Despite gridlock in national and state immigration policy, in the coming years New York City has a unique opportunity to explore new approaches for its own immigrant communities. By developing policies and programs that reduce the adverse effects of immigration on health and realize the benefits of diverse and vibrant communities, New York City has the potential to demonstrate rational, humane, and cost-effective responses to the health dimensions of immigration. Read more about the Forum here and download the report on the forum series Advancing Health Equity in New York City here.
The workshop on Food Access was led by Nevin Cohen and Diana Johnson from the New York City Food Policy Center and Cathy Nonas from the NYC DOHMH’s Center for Health Equity served as a resource. The group discussed specific barriers that immigrant groups faced in finding healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food and reviewed the eligibility of various immigrant groups(e.g., those with and without documentation, refugees, children of immigrants)for food benefit programs such as SNAP, WIC and Health Bucks. At the end of the discussion, the group formulated two recommendations:
- COUNTER-MARKETING: Organize an alliance between immigrants’ rights groups, community organizations, city agencies, faith-based leaders and academics to challenge the promotion of unhealthy foods to immigrant populations and communities and create tailored counter-marketing campaigns for products such as soda, fast food and snack food for immigrant communities as well as social marketing campaigns for healthy ethnic food
- FOOD ACCESS AND FOOD SECURITY: Develop focused, targeted, city-wide united efforts that include anti-hunger organizations, immigrant rights groups and health and nutrition professionals to increase enrollment of immigrant populations and communities in all food benefit programs
Find additional resources on Food Access for Immigrants and other health topics related to immigrants here.