Building Food Security in Philadelphia

policy brief captureThe Philadelphia Nursing-Legal Partnership (NLP), a collaboration between HELP: MLP and the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium (NNCC) hosted a Brunch and Learn on Building Food Security in Philadelphia at the Project Home Honickman Learning Center on January 29th. Five experts representing diverse sectors participated in a lively discussion focused on how to improve food security in Philadelphia with over 50 attendees. The day’s events provided an opportunity for attendees and speakers to network and identify strategies to collaboratively address food insecurity in the city. This Brunch and Learn was an extension of the NLP’s policy agenda which identified food security as a top priority to build collective action and systemic advocacy around. The NLP’s Food Insecurity Policy Brief details the issue and action items for advocates and others who want to get involved.

HELP: MLP gives a big thank you to the staff who spent months planning and executing this successful event!  Key champions for the day include Susan Tew, NLP Nurse Coordinator; Erin Blair, NLP Nurse Liaison and Nurse Home Visitor; Michaela Whitelaw, HELP: MLP Public Health Fellow; Alyson Keefer, NNCC Public Health Manager; Amanda Devilliers, Public Health Manager; Stephanie Dorenbosch, HELP: MLP Managing Attorney; and the NNCC and NLP Policy teams. We also thank all of the speakers and attendees for their thoughtful participation and relentless efforts to help improve the lives of Philadelphians!

Topics discussed included:IMG_0108

  • The scope of food insecurity in Philadelphia
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • The role of food and nutrition in disease prevention
  • Systemic advocacy toward building food security


The day’s speakers included:

Stephanie Dorenbosch, Esq.

Stephanie Dorenbosch joined HELP: MLP as Managing Attorney of the Philadelphia img_0099.jpgoffice in August 2017. She represents clients and consults with nurses on individual legal issues and oversees the staff attorney, interns, and relationships with our site partners. She also serves on the NFP/MM Policy Team, working closely with nurses and clients on systemic advocacy projects to improve law and policy and reduce the systemic barriers faced by our families. Before joining HELP:MLP, Stephanie spent six years representing low-income workers in employment and immigration cases as a staff attorney at Friends of Farmworkers (now called Justice At Work). At FOF, she also developed and ran a medical-legal partnership with Puentes de Salud’s primary care clinic. Stephanie received her law degree from Harvard Law School, is proficient in Spanish and is admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania.

Dwayne Wharton, M.Ed.

Dwayne Wharton serves as the Director of External Affairs at The Food Trust where he leads local and national advocacy and health equity efforts.  Dwayne is an appointed member of the Mayor’s Commission on African-American Males and the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council; serves on the boards of the Kynett Foundation, Greater Philadelphia Philanthropic Network and the Bridging the Gaps Community Health Internship Program; and is Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project and member of the Allies for Reaching Community Health Equity (ARCHE) Health Equity Experts Network.  Dwayne is a former Peace Corps volunteer and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader.

Kathy Fisher, J.D., M.S.W.

Kathy joined the Coalition Against Hunger in Aug. 2014. As Policy Director, she researches best practices; performs policy and data analysis; presents information to elected officials, service providers and community members; and, works with a wide-range of anti-hunger and nutrition partners to advocate for effective policies and programs to help those who struggle with hunger in our communities. Kathy has over twenty years of social service and advocacy experience focused on family economic security, child nutrition, welfare (TANF), and tax policies and programs. She has her J.D. and M.S.W. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

Michelle Gross, M.S., R.D., C.L.C.

Michelle is the Assistant Director of the Nutrition and Active Living Department at the Health Promotion Council, a PHMC affiliate. She oversees all Nutrition and Active Living Department programming, including SNAP-Ed funded nutrition education with children and adults, home visiting programs providing medical nutrition therapy and health coaching to uncontrolled diabetics, and technical assistance to improve the healthfulness of food service operations throughout the city. Prior to relocating to Philadelphia, Michelle coordinated a USDA-funded primary care based early childhood obesity prevention research study out of Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Before getting involved with nutrition and food systems, Michelle spent several years as an organizer at an immigrant workers’ center in NJ. She is a registered dietitian and has a master’s degree in Nutrition and Public Health from Teachers College Columbia University, and a BA in Sociology from Rutgers University.

Kirtrina Baxter, M.A.

Kirtrina M. Baxter, M.A. is a dedicated mother, drummer, and afroecologist. She is committed to assisting Black and Brown growers get access to land to grow food and community, nationally and in Philadelphia, where she also co-organizes Soil Generation (SG). SG is a Black and Brown-led coalition of food justice activists that work within a racial and economic justice framework to help inform policy, provide community education and support growers in the city. An educator and trainer of afroecology with Black Dirt Farm Collective, she loves getting her hands dirty and meeting kindred spirits. Kirtrina is a board member of Urban Creators, Mill Creek Farm and CoFed, as well, she sits on the leadership teams of the National Black Food and Justice Alliance and HEAL Food Alliance. In 2008, she received her M.A. from Union Institute and University in Cultural Studies.


Hannah Chatterjee, B.A.

Hannah is the Food Policy Advisory Council Manager at the Office of Sustainability. She manages subcommittee projects and fundraising for FPAC, and oversees the Council’s meetings and general operations. She previously served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with FPAC through SERVE Philadelphia. She also serves on the Board of Food Moxie, the Policy Committee of Soil Generation, and the Food Justice & Equity Committee of the South Philly Food Co-op. Hannah developed an interest in food systems while studying the history of commodities at Cornell University, where she worked as a line cook and graduated in 2013 with a BA in History and International Relations.


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