Sermon on the menu: Adams tackles food inequality in visit to Brooklyn church

Mayor Adams speaks at Brooklyn church
Mayor Eric Adams addressed parishioners at the Cornerstone Baptist Church on June 5.
Photo by Dean Moses

Mayor Eric Adams traveled to a Brooklyn church on Sunday to address disparities within New York’s Black and Brown communities — specifically with regard to nutrition.

Adams highlighted on June 5 the inequities that still exist in underprivileged neighborhoods throughout the Five Boroughs, zeroing in on food insecurity and dietary habits.

Taking the pulpit at Cornerstone Baptist Church on 574 Madison St. in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the mayor recalled his late mother as an example of the way in which Black New Yorkers face a higher rate of diseases such as diabetes.

“Mommy was diabetic for 15 years–seven years on insulin,” Adams told the parishioners. “She just got tired of those injections. And every time I watched her face grimace, I realized that she never got used to the insulin.”

Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

Adams refuted the notion that Black and Brown individuals are simply more susceptible to these illnesses and instead blamed an influx of unhealthy food as the cause. He further suggested the situation was racist by design.

“We did an analysis of where our food came from. Our enslavers gave us this food…They enslaved us and attached us to the food that was destroying us,” Adams said.

Adams believes that unhealthy food is as addictive and damaging as illegal drug use, and he promoted healthy eating and exercise the way path away from obesity, diabetes and related health problems. He conceded that the process is not easy, yet it is worth it to ensure parents are afforded the opportunity to see their children grow up.

But he also pointed to a gap in the availability of healthy food in communities of color.

“You don’t need a gym membership; the gym membership is the stairs in front of your house. Walk up and down them a couple times. Eating healthy is too expensive, that is just not true. You go get one bag of dried lentils you can make a lentil soup, lentil burger,” Adams said. “Why do we have junk food, but you go to Park Slope, and they have Whole Foods?”

Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

The mayor made remarks on other disparities marginalized communities face. He stated that Black women are 12 times more likely to die in childbirth when compared to white women and pointed out that 65% of Black children do not reach proficiency, adding that 80% of Black people currently serving time on Rikers Island do not hold a high-school diploma. Adams questioned why these statistics are not considered a crisis, when he believes that if these stats reflected whites Americans they would be.

Adams promises that his administration will treat these issues as the crises they are.