Connecting Hunger and Health in Brooklyn & Beyond

Hunger and food insecurity affect 1 in 7 Americans today. Those affected by hunger are three times more likely to have diet related health problems like diabetes or hypertension. At WhyHunger, we support grassroots organizations working at the intersections of health and hunger. That’s why we’re excited to share this video highlighting the innovative programs at Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger (BSCAH).

BSCAH hosts an array of projects that tackle the root causes of hunger including a “VeggieRx” program. Through a partnership with the Addabbo Family Health Center, patients with diet related illnesses are given a “prescription” -- a free voucher for produce from the farm stand. We visited their Healing Garden in Far Rockaway, NY to learn more about this model and how it can serve as an example to communities around the country.

During our time there, we met and spoke with Sam Josephs, a youth leader in the Green Teens Program, which allows her to serve as a mentor to her peers. Sam emphasizes the importance of growing fresh, organic produce for her community and the positive impact it has on her neighbors’ health: “Here in Rockaway, you don’t have access to the things that you need… When you have a farm, you’re producing your own food, you’re watching out for your own health.” Her testimony speaks to the value of programs like this, and the importance of local, community-controlled food systems in fighting diet related illnesses.

Executive Director Dr. Melony Samuels, who founded the organization in 1998, believes that increased funding and advocacy is needed to strengthen programs such as these that make the critical connections between food, agriculture and health. In turn, it will also support the development of new organizations and community empowerment nationwide. “This is a workable model,” she says. “I know the long-lasting benefit that it will add to the lives of families. It means that a senior citizen can live a little longer. It means that a child might never see diabetes, never be obese, or never have hypertension. It means a lot to me.” It certainly means a lot to the thousands of families served and it means a lot to us too.

Watch this inspiring video to learn more about Sam and BSCAH’s VeggieRx and Green Teens Program, and thank you to Sam & BSCAH for the work that you do and for sharing your story with us!

Becca Haydu