Completion of the Healthy Neighborhood Initiative
Building Healthy Communities
October 6, 2020
Through its Building Healthy Communities priority area, NYSHealth has supported six communities across the State in implementing neighborhood-level approaches to increase access to healthy, affordable food and to improve the built environment to make physical activity easier.
In each neighborhood, community convener organizations have spearheaded and acted as the main coordinators for the work, assembling and mobilizing partner coalitions to achieve shared goals. As a result of these efforts, nearly half a million New Yorkers in these neighborhoods have better opportunities to lead healthier lives. As this initiative enters its final year of programming, it is vital that community convener grantees and their partners are prepared to grow and sustain their work at the end of the grant cycle. In 2020, NYSHealth awarded a grant to community convener Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative to sustain social connections and healthy food access in Niagara Falls’ North End neighborhoods.
Under this grant, Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative will implement its Community Currency initiative to break social isolation, encourage healthy eating habits, and improve access to healthy food and health care services. Community Currency is a time bank model where participants can offer services or use skills to meet the needs of another community member, with people exchanging hours instead of dollars. For example, participants can earn credits and exchange hours by helping one another with tasks such as giving a ride to a doctor’s appointment, helping with household chores, or cooking a healthy meal for another resident. The initiative will focus on creating access to healthy food options as well as addressing other community members’ needs that emerge during the COVID-19 crisis. The Collaborative will partner with the local food bank, community gardens, and farmers to obtain healthy produce that will be used to create food boxes that residents can purchase using their time bank credits. By creating a network of residents exchanging services and supporting one another, the initiative also aims to address social isolation and other social determinants of health traditionally not addressed by the health care system. The Collaborative will also host neighborhood activation events, workshops, play activities, and other resident-driven events to build and sustain social cohesion in the community.