East Harlem: Foodie Paradise or Desert?

Posted on July 24, 2017 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Join Our Virtual Field Trip & Decide

Some foodies who love to sample ethnic foods say East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem, should be a foodie paradise.  But the truth is it was once considered a food desert:  a community barren of nutritious food.

And compared to other parts of Manhattan, East Harlem has higher rates of obesity and health problems that result from poor diet. While the food landscape in the neighborhood has improved in recent years, access to healthy food remains a challenge for many.  

Fortunately, our Catholic Charities affiliate, Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Services (LSA Family Health Service), offers families healthy food choices and tools to maintain a healthy diet at home.

LSA Family Health Service, founded by the Little Sisters of the Assumption, strengthens and empowers vulnerable families and children by meeting their basic needs for food, healthcare, education and a safe home, in the belief that affirming families in their own dignity improves the entire community.

Join us on a virtual field trip below - like the real field trips clients are taking this summer - as LSA Family Health Service hosts cooking demos and offers fresh local produce to encourage families to eat well for better health. 

LSA Family Health Services clients shopped at The Mount Sinai Hospital Greenmarket

Visiting the GrowNYC The Mount Sinai Hospital Greenmarket

This month LSA Family Health Services clients shopped for healthy produce at the GrowNYC The Mount Sinai Hospital Greenmarket. And here’s a big shout out to NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for giving 200 $2 Health Bucks for our clients to spend on fruits and vegetables at the local farmers’ markets!

Squash and Zucchini from Whistle Down Farms

"Eating Local" at LSA Family Health Service’s food pantry

Visitors of LSA Family Health Service’s food pantry enjoy fresh local produce, thanks to a partnership with Local Produce Link through Just Food and United Way of New York City. This year, the produce comes from Whistle Down Farms.  The squash and zucchini (above) and the kale in the photo above all came from the farm.

Even closer to home – we’ve been thrilled to receive food donations from Pleasant Village Community Garden, located right here in East Harlem!

A Cooking Demo from Food Bank of NY

To share ideas on delicious ways to prepare all that beautiful produce from Whistle Down Farms, Delma from Food Bank For New York City recently did a cooking demonstration in LSA Family Health Service’s lobby.  Families sampled a warm kale and potato salad, and got the recipe to try at home.

Far too many New York City residents - 1.4 million people, to be precise -- depend on food pantries and soup kitchens in New York to survive. That’s one out of every five New Yorkers, older women, working families, veterans and, worst of all, children.

Catholic Charities is making a difference.  We partner with programs to provide more than 6.5 million meals to hungry New Yorkers each year. Community-based food programs and food pantries like LSA Family Health Services offer families food to bring home.  Many locations also provide hot meals on site. And we connect hungry people to the extra support they need so they will not go hungry again.

Are you or someone you know hungry and need help?

Thanks to Catholic Charities, our affiliates, pantries and partners, New York City does not have to be a food desert. 

Find free food pantries and services near you

Learn more about LSA Family Health Service


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