One Step at a Time: Building a Healthier Bronx

By Brittany Aubain

62 out of 62. According to the New York State County Health Ranking and Roadmaps Report, the Bronx has ranked last in health outcomes in New York State since 2017. The population suffers from high rates of infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, asthma, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

The poor outcomes only increased during the outbreak of COVID-19, in which the Bronx was hit the hardest with infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Now, just like other areas of New York City, the Bronx is slowly but surely moving into this new normal. As businesses open up, plazas expand, and programs return, Bronx elected officials and the organizations they work with are taking steps toward creating a healthier borough.

There are various socioeconomic reasons why Bronxites face such poor health outcomes. Many organizations are focused on providing nutrition education to ensure that residents make the right food and wellness decisions.

New mom and District 14 Council Member Pierina Sanchez teamed up with the Morris Heights Health Center for a new “Healthy Parents Healthy Baby” event in the Burnside section of the Bronx. Representatives from the American Heart Association and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield were on hand. The new Mott Haven Farm Stand offered food demos to educate new and expectant mothers on several ways to keep themselves and their babies safe.

“When their little one arrives, there is so much to know and to gather that it really is helpful to know that you have support services around you, there are resources that you can access, and that’s what today is about,” said Council Member Sanchez. “We want to make sure families are seeing ‘How do I cook a healthy meal? How do I make sure that my child is having the nutrition that they need that’s so important?’”

A Morris Heights Health Center representative said the partnership with the health organization and Mott Haven Farmstand is “about creating a sustainable, health mindset change.”

While resources are imperative, low incomes can sometimes bar individuals from obtaining healthy food. In the Parkchester section of the Bronx, residents have options from several fast food chains, including Burger King, Mcdonald’s, Popeyes, and Texas Fried Chicken, all within a short distance of one another. Here, full meals range from $5-$15, which most families say is more affordable than buying groceries from the neighborhood Foodtown, where a small pack of strawberries is $5, and a pack of chicken breast is $15.

Source: Fighting More Than Covid-19: Unmasking The State Of Hunger In Nyc During A Pandemic

Source: Fighting More Than Covid-19: Unmasking The State Of Hunger In Nyc During A Pandemic

The Mott Haven Farmstand, located on Burnside and University Avenue, provides an abundance of produce to Bronxites, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. The farmstand takes most forms of assistance, including SNAP and EBT.

Public Health Solutions are also working toward providing clients with the financial aid and benefits they need. Recently, the organization increased its space and staff in its office in East Tremont to help more clients.

President and CEO of Public Health Solutions Lisa David said that the Bronx is the hungriest borough in the city. “Providing access, especially to these young families, to nutritious food is incredibly needed,” said David. She also mentioned that food insecurity levels skyrocketed during COVID, and while they did go down some, residents are still struggling to feed themselves.

Over the year, elected officials like Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson hosted silent discos, 5Ks, and bike tours to get Bronxites active again. With the cold weather and holidays approaching, outdoor activities will be put on hold, so elected officials urge residents to take advantage of indoor recreational centers like the new YMCA on 3rd Ave and 149th St, which offers families financial assistance on monthly payments.

As the Bronx continues to recover physically and financially from COVID-19, health and wellness remain at the forefront of priorities for elected officials and local organizations to ensure that the borough no longer falls last.

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