Spotlight

Heather Butts     

Heather M. Butts, JD, MPH, MA, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management. In addition, she is the founder of H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths, the steward of numerous Little Free Libraries, and the co-founder along with several Mailman graduates, of “The Clementine Collective,” a corner store intervention of fruits in high need neighborhoods in Staten Island and Washington Heights, Manhattan. Learn more about Professor Butts' recent work below:


Clementine Collective:  Individuals living in neighborhoods that are underserved face significant challenges in getting fresh fruits and vegetables for themselves and their families. Fresh fruits and vegetables have positive physical and mental impact on the lives of those that live in food deserts. In March 2020, four students in Prof. Heather Butts’ ISP class, Daphne Derose, MPH, Hedda Nguyen, MPH, Chariz Seijo, MPH, and Nadia Tabatabaeepour, MPH, had an idea to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to a corner store “bodega” in Staten Island, New York. This was early in the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 20, 2020, “The Clementine Collective” was launched. Starting out bringing 50 clementine fruits per day in a stand to a corner store in the New Brighton, Staten Island, the project has grown to 5 stores in multiple neighborhoods in Washington Heights Manhattan, and Staten Island. Each stand brings to the neighborhoods clementines as well as a variety of other vegetables and fruits such as oranges, sweet potatoes, apples, onions, tomatoes, and more. Individuals who utilize these stands also get access to recipes and information regarding healthy choices. The program has several partners including Staten Island University Hospital, Staten Island Partnership for Community Well-Being, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Columbia Meat Market, The Office of Assembly member, Charles Fall. Check out this new video from James Beard, Award winning Chef Mashama Bailey, and restaurant partner John O. Morisano where they discuss the importance of the Clementine Collective. To learn more about the Clementine Collective please use this link: www.clementinecollective.org.  

Little Free Library: Since August, 2015, H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths, the non-profit co-founded by  Prof. Heather Butts, has worked to bring little free libraries to neighborhoods in New York City and New Jersey. Little Free Libraries operate on the sharing books model. In addition to book sharing, other projects over time have included reading programs, virtual literacy programs, and read aloud programs with librarians from local libraries. H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths stewards over 70 little free libraries. One of the newest little free libraries resides outside the Hammer Health Sciences Building - Columbia University Irving Medical Center. This little free library is part of the Read in Color Program which, "distributes books that provide perspectives on racism and social justice; celebrate BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized voices; and incorporate experiences from all identities for all readers.” Specifically, the library is part of the NYC program which launched in June, 2021. This summer, the NYC Read in Color program launched an art contest for students ages 11-17. Interested students and parents can click on the link below to register and get involved: https://littlefreelibrary.org/nyc-art/. Students interested in participating in programs around the little free library can contact Heather Butts at hb2108@cumc.columbia.edu.