Find food pantries in your area by visiting the Food Pantries Food Connect Map: 

Food Connect Map, an initiative by The Food Pantries, is a repository of diverse community resources, spanning from food pantries, community and senior meals, summer feeding programs for children, and product access.

About Us 

The Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) action team welcomes members interested in addressing barriers to the equitable ability of children and adults to engage in physical activity and healthy nutrition practices, which are essential tools in preventing and controlling cancer. Our work addresses barriers at all levels, emphasizing structural barriers at the environmental level, including geographic, political & socioeconomic factors.  The action team meetings are held on the third Friday of every other month from 10 AM to 11 AM. 

Our Mission, Goals, & Objectives


The Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Action Team is committed to diminishing the statewide impact of cancer and enhancing the well-being of all cancer survivors. We strive to achieve this by formulating and advocating for policies and resources that create an inclusive environment where individuals from diverse backgrounds can flourish. Our focus is on fostering active living and encouraging the adoption of healthy nutrition practices to improve overall quality of life. 

Goals & Objectives


 Upcoming Event 

Enhancing Wellness through Nutrition, Activity, and Policy for Cancer Patients and Survivors

Thursday Jun 20, 2024

11:00AM - 12:30PM

Register Here

Event Speakers

Tania Weiss (Host) is the executive director of Cancer Support Team, a nonprofit in Westchester County that offers cancer patients and their families one-on-one nursing education, support and navigation, as well as case management services, and social work counseling all at no cost. Because staff members visit patients in their own homes, CST sees firsthand just how difficult a cancer diagnosis is, especially when there is food and/or housing insecurity. CST works to reduce healthcare disparities and increase access to essential healthcare services including referrals to community partners offering nutritious food. The goal is to help patients regain a sense of control over their lives and actively participate in their care.

Dr. Erica Phillips is the associate director for community outreach and engagement of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center.  As a health services researcher, her body of research includes three intersecting areas: (a) developing behavioral interventions to promote healthier eating, physical activity, and weight control in high-risk groups, (b) formative qualitative and quantitative research to understand the social determinants that drive differences in morbidity and mortality between certain racial/ethnic groups, and (c) incorporating strategies and tools grounded in the principles of community-engaged research into larger scientific programs to address health disparities.

Alexina Cather is the Director of Policy and Special Projects at Wellness in the Schools, a national nonprofit that teaches public school students' healthy habits to learn, live, and thrive. She is also the Deputy Chair and a Founding Member of the Board of Advisors at the Center for Food as Medicine where she works to increase equity and access to food as medicine treatments, programs, and interventions. Prior to this role she was the Director of Policy Advocacy and Sustainability at the James Beard Foundation where she led the foundation’s advocacy and sustainability work.  

Dr. Neil M. Iyengar is a medical oncologist and clinical investigator at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Rockefeller University. His work investigates the links between metabolic health and breast cancer. His research combines cutting-edge therapies with nonpharmacologic approaches such as diet and exercise strategies. As obesity rates rise, Iyengar has focused on the role of inflammation in cancer. His team has demonstrated how inflammation is a key contributor to obesity-related breast cancers. A crucial component of his research is the development of clinical trials that examine the role of medication alongside diet and exercise to prevent obesity-related cancers and improve outcomes.

Natasha Pernicka has been leading The Food Pantries for the Capital District as Executive Director since 2011 and The Alliance for a Hunger Free New York since 2023. With more than 20 years in the nonprofit sector, Natasha has developed and implemented new programs, created growth in fund development efforts, and led strategic initiatives throughout her career. She has experience in hunger relief, food as medicine, homelessness/housing, mental health, older adults, and youth development.

Michael Davoli is the Senior Director of Government Relations – New York, for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). He was born and raised in Syracuse New York where he attended the University at Albany, earning a double B.A. in political science and public administration and history. For ten years he has served in several roles at ACS CAN including leading ACS CAN’s statewide grassroots network in New York, managing ACS CAN’s public policy work in New York City, and most recently serving as ACS CAN’s Director of Government Relations in New Jersey before being named Senior Director of Government Relations – New York.

Francesca Maglione joined New York-Presbyterian Hospital in 2018 after working as an oncology dietitian at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida. Francesca completed her dietetic internship and BS in Dietetics and Nutrition from Keiser University, in Port Saint Lucie, FL. She received her MPH in Health Policy and Management from SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, NY. She is a Board-Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition. Francesca works at the Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and is passionate about providing evidence-based individualized nutrition care to improve health outcomes for patients throughout the cancer care continuum. She is committed to promoting health equity for underprivileged populations.

Erika Hanson, JD is a Clinical Instructor at the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School where her work focuses on addressing the social determinants of health and health equity. She advises community-based organizations, state agencies, and coalitions regarding the legal pathways and policy implementation strategies to integrate payment and delivery of health-related social needs services — such as food and housing supports for those with chronic illness, experiencing high-risk pregnancy, and others in need — into our health care system.  Last year, this work included advising the formation and work of the New York Food as Medicine Project, a statewide initiative to develop policy and practice recommendations for the future of Food as Medicine in New York State. She is a licensed member of the New York state bar.

Kathleen Nugent is Senior Director of Regional Programs at CancerCare and oversees program development for our New Jersey and Connecticut locations. She has been with CancerCare for 40 years and is a member of the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW). Kathleen has her LCSW in both New Jersey and New York.

Lucia Sanchez, Breast Cancer Survivor & Client of Feeding Westchester, is a vibrant 64-year-old woman originally from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. She moved to New York in 1993, where she has built a fulfilling life. As a dedicated mother of three, Lucia's family has grown to include ten grandchildren and two great-granddaughters. Her commitment to family is matched by her faith; she is a devoted Jehovah's Witness and serves as a volunteer preacher. Lucia's resilience is evident in her triumph over breast cancer, a battle she has courageously fought and won. She embraces a healthy lifestyle, finding joy in walks in the park and maintaining her well-being.

Helpful Resources