SNMA Brings the H.E.A.T. – Health Equity and Advocacy Tour – Part 1

SNMA’s Health Equity Advocacy Tour (HEAT) kicked off in October and, at each of the stops, its events brought awareness about the social determinants of health to underserved communities. Through the warmth of service, SNMA and MAPS members encouraged community leaders to engage in advocacy for solutions to the social determinants that affect their community.

In our look back at the seven-city tour, we have decided to group the different events together according to focus. Part 1 covers the events in Chicago, Boston and New Orleans and how they tackled Food Justice, Homelessness, and Environmental Justice respectively. Be sure to read Part 2 for more on the events in New York, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and Atlanta


Food Justice

The participating members in Region II kicked off HEAT with food drives for local shelters. Members in Chicago did their part by providing groceries for over 150 families to the Canaan Missionary Food Church Pantry. The Chicago members continued their efforts to eliminate food deserts (areas where healthy, affordable food is difficult to obtain) in the city by convening a town hall meeting with area experts on food justice and community resources. The meeting was held in Chicago’s South Side neighborhood and gave attendees a larger perspective on the plight faced by the area’s citizens and their ability to afford healthier eating options. By learning about the steps that the experts have taken in order to battle food justice, SNMA members hoped to learn what they may able to do to continue the fight.



Six months after the first HEAT event took place in Chicago, the SNMA members in the Boston area closed out the tour with an event on homelessness. The event in Boston focused on the effect that homelessness has on nutrition and sexual health. Students from Tufts and Boston Universities worked in a local food pantry and were responsible for keeping it clean and organizing the food. They were trained on how to make healthier eating options more appealing to the pantry’s visitors. Students from Harvard and Brown Universities presented information on sexually transmitted diseases and HIV to women at a Boston area shelter. The information was presented in a round-table discussion that facilitated more interaction and learning. Those who were interested also received free HIV screening following the presentation. At a panel discussion later in the day that brought both groups and as well as community experts together, a lot of information was gathered about the state of the homeless in the Boston area. The information learned at the discussion gave SNMA members perspective on what can be done to give the homeless better access to healthcare.


Environmental Justice

The Region III SNMA members, led by members in the city of New Orleans, focused on rebuilding the park sites that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The many uses of the neighborhood parks made them an important crux of community life and over 5 years is a long time to be without such an important feature. Restoring the parks to their former glory would provide the youth in the area with a safe place to play and promote healthy living for all members of the community. The Region III membership banded together and cleaned up a large part of Joe Brown Park in New Orleans East. A panel discussion on environmental justice with community leaders followed their cleanup. The lively discussion gave SNMA members a lot to think about and ideas about what else they could do to continue the great work they started at Joe Brown Park.



Filed Under: Inside SNMA


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