Food & Health Equity Working Group

The Food & Health Equity (FHE) Working Group’s goal is to influence policies and programs that increase access to, and quality of, fresh, healthy, local food for all community members.


  •  Inequitable access to nutritious, affordable food

  •  Improved access to nutritious, affordable food as a means of addressing chronic disease and diet-related health issues in communities

  •  Regulations that hinder or disincentivize commercial availability of nutritious food

  •  Logistical obstacles to institutional purchasing of nutritious, local food for schools

  •  Program and policy coordination across non-profits, government agencies, academic institutions and food consumers

  •  Educating the public on racial equity and income equity issues in the food system, as well as food retail zoning and permitting regulations and processes


Food & Health Equity working group is currently led by Jen England, the Program director, Food Recovery Operations of 412 Food Rescue.

Other active members include: Allegheny County Health Department, Grow Pittsburgh, Economic Development South, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, 412 Food Rescue, United Way of Southwest PA, Adagio Health PowerUp!, UPMC Children’s Hospital, Let’s Move Pittsburgh, Community Kitchen Pittsburgh, Allies for Children, Common Threads, Just Harvest, Trellis Legal, and others

Your Food & Health Equity working Group Project Manager is Sarah Buranskas . She can be reached at Sarah@pittsburghfoodpolicy.org

Current Projects:

  • Food Equity Rubric - Based on best practices research and previous examples, FHE is working to create a rubric, for use by public and private entities, that can be used for consideration during public housing development, private development, and public transportation decision-making.

  • Barriers to Food Business Report - The working group created a survey for small food businesses in Allegheny County to assess common challenges to starting and operating such businesses. Simultaneously, the Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic researched best practices nationally for permitting and food safety regulations. The results were analyzed in partnership with Trellis Legal, and the report highlights some possible options for the City and County to adopt to help foster and support small food businesses. 

  • Food Hackathon ‘Food Access’ Map - In partnership with Code for Pittsburgh and the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center, members of the Food & Health Equity Working Group (formerly Food Access Initiatives Subcommittee) have been creating a map that will highlight where fresh food is available, which sites accept which forms of payment, and where certain programming is implemented. Map pending.


Past Projects:

  • Definition of healthy - An invitation to provide public comment at the federal level on the definition of the word ‘healthy’ led working group members to discuss and form their thoughts. This document summarizing the process and official submitted language is available HERE.

  • Environmental Justice - In conjunction with the Urban Agriculture Working Group, FHE collected input and presented comments to the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection during a statewide Environmental Justice listening tour. Comments addressed how EJ zones should be designated, and when development should lead to additional scrutiny by the PA Office of Environmental Justice, both with regards to current ‘food desert’ definitions. PFPC's formal response is available HERE.

  • Farm Bill Advocacy - In cooperation with the City of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council crafted a letter of support for components of the 2018 Farm Bill. A copy of that document is available HERE.