“Public Health Approaches to Developing Sustainable Urban Agriculture in Humboldt Park, Chicago” – Stefani Muralles


Author: Stefani Muralles

Department: Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement, UIC

Faculty: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE

Non-communicable diseases are ever present in the Latinx community, including metabolic syndrome, various forms of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Each of these can be connected to a poor and unjust local food system, especially in urban communities of color. Through a review of published literature, and a critical narrated annotated bibliography, this study focused on Latinx populations and how they bare greater health inequities, those of which are mostly preventable. Systemic factors also drive food insecurity and in turn the previously stated diseases. These health inequalities continue to progress due to the government’s prioritization of cash crop profits versus enhanced production of produce in urban areas. The industrialization of the food system has stripped many populations of their ancestral knowledge of agriculture, leaving food production in the hands of few powerful companies. To further understanding of these health inequities, this study will define the problem and its public health significance, analyze the current U.S. food system, and provide policy solutions for a sustainable local food system that promotes health.

Food justice involves the environment, community participation, and health equity, and examines each factor through a social justice lens. Through this framework, health professionals can work with communities to create effective interventions, while also being mindful of the communities’ needs or desires. The major conclusion from this study is that health inequities with nutritional health impacts can be mitigated through the use of urban agriculture and local community gardens. Coherent policies that are responsive to community needs, assets, and culture are necessary for its success. Lastly, funding for more rigorous studies on urban agriculture benefits are necessary for countrywide application and widespread support for communities to improve their food environment from within.

Keywords: disease, inequalities, inequities, community, urban agriculture, and food justice

Read more about Stefani's work here