Interactive Food Access Map Launch

March 7, 2011
Media Contact:
For the Long Island Index: Deanna Morton, InfiniTech, 516-829-5502, m. 516-732-6414,
For Sustainable Long Island: Scott Woodson, 516-873-0230, m. 631-848-1959,

Long Island Index and Sustainable Long Island Launch Interactive Food Access Map

Garden City, NY and Bethpage, NY – In partnership with Sustainable Long Island, the Long Island Index has released an interactive food access map detailing the existing food retail environment across Long Island. The map is intended to bring attention and problem-solving ideas to the issue of food equity. This food access map, available on the Long Island Index’s website at, shows locations where supermarkets and large grocery stores exist across Long Island and where there are gaps in, or areas without, the availability of these stores.

“Supermarkets are a relatively permanent source of a wide variety of food, including items essential for healthy eating, such as fresh fruit and vegetables as well as economic development engines for local communities that provide jobs,” said Sarah Lansdale, Executive Director, Sustainable Long Island. “We’ve examined data looking at the availability of food options and this food access map project will help explore multiple solutions for bringing fresh food into currently underserved communities.”

“The Long Island Index is pleased that in working with Sustainable Long Island we were able to jointly develop a new layer of rich data to help citizens better understand their communities,” said Ann Golob, director of the Long Island Index.

The information presented on the food access map can be used to develop solutions suited to each community, from land use recommendations in community plans to project implementation. For example, supermarket locations can be compared on the map with concentrations of households with no cars, or low income housing, or areas poorly served by public transit – or all of the above. The data can help identify communities that may benefit from projects designed to increase access to fresh fruit and vegetables, such as creating farmers’ markets and grocery stores.

Access to fresh, healthy food depends on a variety of factors, one of which is the location of food stores. Another factor is the availability of transportation to the stores for local residents. When viewed with other layers included in the Long Island Index map (i.e. bus routes, income, car ownership information), supermarket locations can paint a more complete picture of food access.

“By adding information on supermarkets, Sustainable Long Island has enhanced the Index maps in an important way, shining new light on local food access and ways of understanding how to improve opportunities for fresh food across the region,” noted Steven Romalewski, director of the CUNY Mapping Service at the Center for Urban Research, CUNY Graduate Center. “We look forward to working with the Index and Sustainable LI to leverage ways to use interactive maps to help address this important issue facing Long Island.”

This is the first time this invaluable information has been made available for the public. The interactive map combines a rich amount of information coupled with easy-to-use tools so users are presented with a valuable indicator of gaps in food access.

“We applaud Sustainable Long Island and the Long Island Index for releasing their interactive food access map,” said Andrea Lohneiss, Long Island Regional Director, Empire State Development Corporation. “This map has the potential to be an important tool for local communities, supermarket operators, and property owners to demonstrate gaps in the fresh food access network and help strengthen applications from Long Island ‘food deserts’ for funding under the Healthy Foods Healthy Communities Program. We look forward to continuing the momentum of this program here in Long Island.”

Supermarkets and other full-service food retailers can be economic development opportunities for the communities they serve, creating healthier communities as well as jobs. In 2010, the Healthy Food Healthy Communities Fund was launched – making $30 million in grants and loans available to “facilitate the development of healthy food markets in underserved communities throughout New York.” The fund is administered by Empire State Development with partners The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), The Reinvestment Fund, and The Food Trust. Funding is available to healthy food market operators or developers online at

“I applaud Sustainable Long Island and Long Island Index for shining a light on this important issue,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who, as the first New Yorker to serve on the Senate Agriculture and Nutrition Committee in nearly 40 years, is helping lead the fight in the Senate to combat child obesity and promote good health. “Millions of New Yorkers do not have access to fresh, healthy food. This new resource will help bring new grocery stores to underserved areas across Long Island”

“I commend Sustainable Long Island and the Long Island Index for teaming up to apply new mapping technology to study an age-old problem: access to healthy food,” said Congressman Steve Israel. “With user-friendly information, policymakers can work towards eliminating food deserts and building healthier children, families and communities.”

“Hempstead Town is proud to work with Sustainable Long Island and the Long Island Index in their effort to bring attention to the importance of having food markets readily available in local communities,” said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray. “In fact, we have worked with ShopRite to accommodate their re-entrance to the Uniondale community. We are currently working to bring an easily accessible grocery store to the heart of downtown Elmont.”

“Long Island is facing a food crisis, with many areas of Nassau and Suffolk Counties underserved by supermarkets and grocery stores. The Interactive Food Access Map will allow working families to locate stores that sell fresh and healthy food near their homes or workplaces,” said John Durso, President, Long Island Federation of Labor. “The map will lead to economic development by pointing to areas in need of the construction of food retailers. I commend Sustainable Long Island and the Long Island Index for making this wonderful tool a reality for all Long Islanders.”

“A growing number of communities around the state, and country, are working to improve residents’ quality of life by improving the food environments in neighborhoods – but lack of accessible information on the extent and nature of food disparities is a common challenge,” said Dr. Samina Raja, Associate Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning School of Architecture and Planning at Buffalo. “Sustainable Long Island is to be congratulated for their leadership in documenting and publicly disseminating information about food access with residents of Long Island.”

“I think it’s important that communities have the ability to view an interactive food access map. This allows them to get a good picture of how underserved their community is when it comes to access to fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as, access to healthier options for their families,” said Sandra Smith, Co-Chair, Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development. “The access to healthier options, in addition to, the economic opportunities that a supermarket can bring to a community, such as Elmont, is definitely needed and well deserved. I applaud Sustainable Long Island and the Long Island Index for providing such critical information to the public.”

Additional partners and funders for this project include Bethpage Federal Credit Union, Town of Brookhaven & Greater Bellport Coalition, The Jaggar Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, The Levitt Foundation, The Long Island Community Foundation, Nassau County, New York Council on the Arts, The William E. and Maude S. Pritchard Charitable Trust, The Rauch Foundation, Suffolk County, and The Verizon Foundation.

About Sustainable Long Island
Sustainable Long Island serves as a catalyst for creating a better quality of life for all Long Islanders, now and for future generations through economic development, environmental health and social equity. Sustainable Long Island connects public and private resources and expertise with communities that need them. Sustainable Long Island is located at 45A Seaman Avenue, Bethpage, NY, 11714. For further information, call (516) 873-0230, visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Rauch Foundation: The Long Island Index is funded by the Rauch Foundation, a family foundation headquartered in Garden City, New York. In addition to funding the Long Island Index for eight years the Rauch Foundation commissioned The Long Island Profile Report and a series of polls on Long Island to determine how the region is faring compared to other suburbs in the NY Metro area. Indicators, survey results and in-depth research reports from the Long Island Index 2004 through 2011 are available for download at The Long Island Index interactive maps, an online resource with detailed demographic, residential, transportation and educational information, is also accessible from the Index’s website.

About the Center for Urban Research: Working with CUNY Graduate Center faculty and students, the Center for Urban Research (CUR) organizes basic research on the critical issues that face New York and other large cities in the U.S. and abroad, collaborates on applied research with public agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other partners, and holds forums for the media, foundations, community organizations and others about urban research at the Graduate Center and the City University. The CUNY Mapping Service at CUR assists organizations in realizing the geographic and mapping dimensions of their activities. The Center’s website is