The WHIN Food Council works to encourage sustainable food systems and healthy food consumption in Washington Heights and Inwood. We create a space for residents to identify their food justice issues and determine their own solutions. By taking action together while simultaneously developing knowledgeable and culturally-aware leaders, we serve as a catalyst for food justice and foster dynamic community involvement.
We seek to provide a space for sharing and using knowledge with the goal of improving healthy and sustainable food access in our community. We use the term “food justice” broadly. In our work, this can include community awareness, advocacy, educational initiatives, and improving access to healthy, fresh, and affordable food while mindful of the environment and labor.
Our community is currently defined through the jurisdiction of Manhattan Community Board 12, spanning from the northern tip of Manhattan down to 155th Street, and stretching from the Hudson River on the west to the Harlem River on the east. However, we welcome collaboration from community organizations across the region and country.
The WHIN Food Council, in its current form, was founded in March 2016 by Catarina Rivera with support from City Harvest. Informal monthly community meetings were held to gather residents to discuss food issues and their vision for the community. By September 2016, a Founders Committee was formed of individuals who supported the burgeoning group and wanted to be a part of its beginning efforts. During our first year, we developed our mission, vision, and operating procedures while continuing to hold monthly community meetings which we now called general body meetings. During this year, we also engaged in advocacy work regarding the Street Vendor Modernization Act and released a policy statement on this piece of legislation.
In early 2017, the WHIN Food Council received its first grant from Citizens Committee for NYC (CCNYC).
In May 2017, we applied for and received a garden plot at Riley-Levin Children’s Garden with New York Restoration Project.
In June 2017, we hosted our first healthy potluck and continued to offer additional potlucks in February 2018 and March 2018.
During our first gardening season, we hosted youth in the garden for a food justice program and we organized a series of successful Family Garden Days.
In September 2017, our Founders Committee transitioned to a Steering Committee and new leaders joined our team while others moved on.
In early 2018, we received renewed funding from CCNYC with a grant amount that more than doubled our previous grant. In February 2018, we hosted our first workshop on food preservation where participants learned to preserve radishes. For our second growing season, we were given an additional bed and we formed a strong committee of garden leaders to plan for these two beds.
During this growing season, we have hosted weekly open garden work hours, more Family Garden Days, and a 4-week free nutrition workshop series with City Harvest.
In June 2018, our general body members voted to approve the following goals for 2018-2019:
Expanding the amount of land we garden, our own WHIN Food Council Garden for the community and residents to grow their own food
Network of gardeners (individual and institutional) in the neighborhoods that meet regularly to share resources
Leadership development around food justice open to all age groups in WHIN