Health Department's Center for Health Equity Hosts Fourth Annual Brooklyn Food, Fitness and Faith Summit

The summit convened 250 faith leaders representing 100 faith-based organizations committed to expanding health initiatives in their congregations

April 27, 2017 — The New York City Health Department’s Center for Health Equity, through its Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and in partnership with the Brooklyn Interfaith Advisory Group, convened 250 faith leaders representing 100 faith-based organizations for Brooklyn’s annual Food, Fitness and Faith Summit today. Now in its fourth year, the summit brought together faith-based organizations at Brooklyn Law School’s Forchelli Conference Center to increase health programming in their houses of worship. This year, the summit will expand the scope of health goals to include walking groups, healthy eating and training for Mental Health First Aid and emergency preparedness.

“As New York City seeks to become a more equitable place for everyone, we look to communities for their resources and expertise,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We’re pleased to work closely with faith-based leaders throughout the city. Their skills, credibility and guidance contribute to advancing the health of all New Yorkers.”

“Our local faith leaders have been invaluable, collaborative partners in our efforts to advance health equity across our neighborhoods. As historically-trusted partners in the community, we are grateful for their leadership and influence,” said Dr. Aletha Maybank, Deputy Commissioner and Director of the Center for Health Equity. “Their renewed commitment to developing comprehensive health programs exemplifies their power to make lasting, positive changes throughout North and Central Brooklyn.”

“The Brooklyn Interfaith Advisory Group salutes the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity for supporting the Brooklyn faith community in addressing health conditions that impact the quality of our lives,” said Scottie Owings-Leaks, President of the Brooklyn Interfaith Advisory Group. “With the Health Department’s support, our members continue to implement healthy eating and active living activities. This is one way that we can collectively bridge health disparities in the city.”

“Our borough’s annual Food, Fitness and Faith Summit is an important opportunity to galvanize the potential of our houses of worship to lead the way in helping our communities’ foster healthy children and families,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric. L. Adams. “I applaud Health Commissioner Bassett and her team for committing to this grassroots initiative that seeks to make small lifestyle changes translate into positive, lasting health outcomes.”

The Health Department’s Center for Health Equity, which was created in 2014 to advance health equity, engages with the faith-based community to improve health outcomes. This year, the summit will focus on five commitments:

  1. Walking groups
  2. Enrollment in Mental Health First Aid trainings
  3. Health Bucks, an incentive that provides $2 coupons to spend on fruits and vegetables for every $5 spent in SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) benefits
  4. Shop Healthy Adopt-a-Shop, a program that increases the availability of healthier foods and beverages in neighborhood food retailers
  5. Emergency preparedness training

The Center for Health Equity’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives will work alongside Brooklyn’s Interfaith Advisory Group to track the progress of these commitments. As a result of last year’s summit, 11 walking groups were created, 13 blood pressure programs were developed and representatives from 20 faith-based organizations participated in Mental Health First Aid trainings.

About the Interfaith Advisory Groups

Convened by the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, the Interfaith Advisory Groups bring together faith leaders to collaborate with the Health Department in the planning and development of public health programs and policies. Interfaith Advisory Groups are based in each borough and work to reduce health disparities by advocating for improved health care access and promoting wellness through health education and outreach.

About the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity

Founded in 2014, the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity amplifies the agency’s work to eliminate health disparities in neighborhoods with disproportionately high rates of chronic disease and premature death. The division takes a number of approaches to invest in key neighborhoods, eliminate the social barriers to good health and advance health equity. For more information on the Center for Health Equity, visit The Office of Faith-Based Initiatives in the Center for Health Equity leads the Health Department’s effort to create sustainable partnerships with the faith community and address health inequities. The initiative builds partnerships through the Interfaith Advisory Groups.

Follow the Center for Health Equity on social media using #NYCHealthEquity.



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