Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Active Transportation and Complete Streets Webinar Recap

This post was written by Kelly Moltzen, Program Manager for Bronx Health REACH’s Creating Healthy Schools and Communities.

On April 27th, Bronx Health REACH and Dan Suraci from Urban Cycling Solutions hosted a webinar about Active Transportation and Complete Streets and how Bronx stakeholders could get involved with advancing this work in the Bronx. Active Transportation is any self-propelled, human-powered mode of mobility, such as walking and bicycling. We reviewed the benefits of active transportation for increasing physical activity, thereby addressing one of the risk factors for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Medical costs of obesity are high, at over $11.8 billion in New York State alone.  Pedestrian and bicycle fatalities have not changed much over the past decade, so there is therefore much room for improvement to make streets safer for all.

Smart Growth America defines Complete Streets as “[Streets] designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities.”  Complete Streets balance health, economic vitality, equity, safety, environment, choice, mobility, and livability. They maximize efficiency and space, and encourage climate-friendly transportation options. When planning complete streets, people’s preferred routes are taken into consideration. Reduced traffic speeds save lives, and narrowed lanes help reduce speed of vehicles. Bike lanes and crosswalks with visible paint are safer than those where the paint is worn off; curb extensions and pedestrian islands allow pedestrians to cross streets that aren’t as wide; and ensuring bike parking is available encourages more riders to use their bikes.

Community members can conduct a walk audit of their neighborhood to identify areas of opportunity for Complete Street improvements. On the webinar, we took virtual walk audits to four dangerous intersections in the Bronx – Connor & Provost & Boston Road; 183rd & Grand Concourse; Westchester & Prospect Avenues; and 138th Street and Alexander Avenue. Dan walked us through safety features already existing on some of these streets and areas of opportunity for improvement.

Communities can work with their local municipalities to pass Complete Streets policies, which represent an official mandate to work toward an integrated transportation network for all users, as well the establishment of a reporting framework.  NYC has a “Vision Zero” policy which guides Complete Streets work through the NYC Department of Transportation, however, communities can work with their local Community Boards to advocate for additional changes, or to pressure the city to push a Complete Streets project higher up on the priority list. Some examples of policies that can be implemented in NYC include School Zones and NYC Neighborhood Slow Zones. Successful Complete Streets advisory groups consist of diverse stakeholders as well as a Chamber of Commerce or Business Association, Department of Public Works or Transportation, and the local transit agency. Studies show that more walkable and bikeable communities increase commercial activity and business satisfaction, so it can be especially valuable to get the local business community on board with the proposed changes.

If planned properly, complete street improvements can be no/low cost, and folded into other projects  or utility projects. Measurements to evaluate success can include number of crashes, volume of vehicles, traffic speed, economic vitality, user satisfaction, environmental outcomes, public health outcomes, and public safety. This training was supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).

Friday, May 8, 2020

DATA2GO.NYC – Providing Insight on the Health of Bronx Residents

  Figure 1
 Note: Sample table showing human developmental index (HDI) scores (0-10) for Community Districts 1 (D1) through 12 (D12) in the Bronx, NY. From DATA2GO.NYC by the Social Science Research Council. Retrieved May 4, 2020 from

This post was written by Mickelder Kercy, Evaluation Assistant for Bronx Health REACH.

DATA2GO.NYC is an online tool integrating federal, state, city and non-profit agencies data from 2000 to 2017. Data are available at the community districts and census tracts levels. Using the “Maps” button on the top left corner, a geomap can be generated to visualize on a map the percentages of Bronx residents with specific health indicators or characteristics (e.g., demographics and educational level), behaviors (e.g., fruits and vegetable consumption and exercise), outcomes (e.g., obesity and diabetes) and related mortality rates (e.g., diabetes deaths and heart disease deaths) for each county district. Data are also provided on additional determinants of health such as the environment and food system.

Data reported on DATA2GO.NYC reveals that Bronx residents have major challenges in living healthy, productive and long lives. The American Human Development Index (HDI), a scale of 0 to 10 combining three indicators (educational level, income level and life expectancy), ranges from 2.98 to 6.26 across all 12 Bronx community districts. Currently, Bronx Community Districts 1 through 7 have the lowest human developmental index scores (Figure 1 above) among all 12 Bronx community districts (Figure 2 below) and 59 New York City Community Districts. Comparatively, the NYC Community District with the highest Human Developmental Index score, is  District 7 in Manhattan with 9.29.

Figure 2
Note: Map of Bronx community districts. From NYCdata: Population & Geography by Baruch College Zicklin Schoool of Business. Retrieved May 4, 2020 from

Based on DATA2GO.NYC, the number of bodegas per one supermarket ranges from 7 to 37 across all 12 Bronx Community Districts. The district with the lowest ratio of bodegas to supermarket (7:1) is Bronx Community District 10. The district with the highest ratio of bodegas to supermarket (37:1) is Bronx Community District 6.

The percentage of Bronx residents who are food insecure (i.e., cannot consistently access adequate, affordable, minimally processed and nutrient-rich fresh foods) is above the national household average (11.1%). Food insecurity level varies from 11.90% to 23.70% across all 12 Bronx Community Districts.

Other statistics include:

• The percentage of adults drinking one or more sugary drinks daily ranges from 20% to 39% across all 12 Bronx Community Districts. Bronx Community District 9 (39%) ranks highest among all 59 NYC Community Districts.

• The percentage of adults who reported not having consumed any fruits or vegetables ranges from 12% to 22% across all 12 Bronx Community Districts with Community Districts 5 (22%), 6 (19%) and 3 (19%) ranking in the top 10.

These data continue to underscore the need for Bronx Health REACH’s continued partnership with Bronx bodegas and Corbin Hill Food Project to provide more healthy food options to Bronx residents on a regular basis.

According to DATA2GO.NYC, the percentage of public parks, open space and recreational areas available for use ranges from 0.80% to 33.80% across all 12 Bronx Community Districts. Bronx Community District 6 (33.80%) is the only district in the Bronx ranking among the top 10 highest-ranking NYC community districts that have large public parks, open space and recreational areas for physical activity. As recommended by the National Parks and Recreation Association, cities should allocate a sizeable portion of their land to public parks, open spaces and recreational areas equivalent to 10 acres of land for every 1,000 individuals. The consensus among researchers is that, in addition to the existence of supervised activities, the greater the percentage of public parks, open spaces and recreational lands available to community members within one and two miles of their residential spaces, the more likely community members will engage in physical activities. In the Bronx, there seems to be an association between land use availability for recreational and physical activity and level of physical activity among residents. Throughout all Bronx Community Districts, lack of exercise is one of the most frequent unhealthy behaviors and obesity is the most prevailing health outcome among adults.

• The percentage of adults who reported not having exercised in the past 30 days ranges from 25% to 35% across all 12 Bronx Community Districts. Bronx Community Districts 1 (35%), 2 (35%) and 4 (35%) rank among the top 10 highest-ranking NYC community districts for this behavioral indicator.

• The prevalence of obesity ranges from 24% to 42% across all 12 Bronx Community Districts. Bronx Community Districts 1 (42%) and 2 (42%) rank highest among all 59 NYC Community Districts for this health outcome.

Compounding the lack of physical activity among one third of Bronx residents and access to healthy foods in a county that has one of the largest produce markets in the world, Hunts Point Produce Market, Bronx residents were also dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting free movements of residents within and outside the Bronx and their ability to stay healthy. These data paint a somber picture of the Bronx that reveals the borough has been suffering a public health crisis for a long period of time, even before the data provided by the Robert Wood Johnson County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report, where the Bronx has been persistently ranked the unhealthiest county, 62 out of the 62 New York City counties in the 11 years of the report.

The Bronx Health REACH Coalition founding since 1999 and its collaborations over the years with federal and state agencies, community leaders, faith-based organizations, other organizations and residents has had as its singular focus on the elimination of these health disparities and inequities. It is imperative that all stakeholders mobilize all available resources to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in this vulnerable county and continue to strengthen the socio – political and economic environment and infrastructures that will increase access to, and utilization of, goods and services promoting healthy behaviors and outcomes among all Bronx residents.

Friday, April 3, 2020

COVID-19 Information; Emergency Food Services for School Children, Seniors and the Community; plus Other Resources

APRIL 3, 2020

We understand you may be concerned about COVID-19, the Novel Coronavirus that has spread worldwide and is now here in America with New York being the epicenter of it. Your risk of being exposed to the virus is greatest if you have had close contact (within 6 feet) of someone who has COVID-19. If you are having symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, call your health care provider. If you are severely ill, call 911.

What You Can Do to Stay Healthy

  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and warm water and scrub for at least 20 seconds before rinsing. If you can’t wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
  • Don’t touch your face (especially your eyes, nose or mouth) unless your hands are clean.
  • Don’t shake hands! Greet people with a bow or an elbow bump.
  • Avoid places where there are large groups of people. Try to stay six feet away from others.
  • If you feel sick, stay home. Call your health care provider if you need advice.

How to Get the Health Care You Need

The Institute for Family Health has health centers in New York City and in Ulster and Dutchess Counties. We offer primary medical care, mental health care, and dental care to people of all ages, regardless of ability to pay. Our centers are open and we can offer many services by video or phone – please call us. Click here for a complete list of locations and phone numbers.

Emergency Food Services for School Children

The Office of School Food and Nutrition Services is working around the clock to ensure that students have access to nutritious meals every day. Adults, parents, students and young people under 18 can access breakfast/lunch grab and go bags from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at any of these NYC school sites (Food Hubs).  Text "FOOD" or "COMIDA" to 877-877. Signage indicating food service may not be visible, so students and parents should knock loudly on the front door. The security guard should provide you with a to-go bag. There are Regional Enrichment Centers in NYC where children of first responders, healthcare and transit workers can receive educational programming and 3 hot meals daily.

Food Services for Seniors

These locations are serving free meals to seniors:

  • PSS Andrew Jackson, (356 East 156th St), 9AM-10AM and 11:30AM-1PM
  • BronxWorks Heights Neighborhood, (200 West Tremont Ave), 11AM-1PM
  • Hope of Israel, (1068 Gerard Avenue), 12PM-2PM
  • Mid-Bronx Senior Center, (900 Grand Concourse), 11AM-4:30PM
  • PSS Morrisania Air Rights, (3135 Park Avenue), 12PM-1PM
  • PSS Highbridge Gardens, (1155 University Avenue), 12PM-1:30PM
  • PSS Highbridge (1181 Nelson Avenue), 12PM-1:30PM
  • RAIN Findlay House NORC (1175 Findlay House), 11:30AM-1PM
  • William Hodson (1320 Webster Avenue), 1PM-2PM 

Food Services for Community Members

Farmer’s markets and Fresh Food Box sites.

Red Rabbit provides emergency grab-and-go meals delivered to daycares, schools and community organizations.

FoodHelp NYC Map of food pantries and community kitchens.

COVID-19 Food Hub NYC.

How to Stay Informed

Only get your information from trustworthy sources like the CDC, the New York State Department of Health and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. For updates on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and fatalities in New York City, click here. Also, you can call the New York coronavirus hotline at 1-888-364-3065. In NYC, text COVID to 692692 for text updates from Notify NYC.

Community and Faith-Based Leaders

The City is actively monitoring and responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a community and faith-based partner, you play an important role in helping keep New Yorkers safe and informed.

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and NYC Emergency Management hosts a weekly COVID-19 informational call for community and faith leaders. Each week they will provide updates from various city agencies.

Below is the conference call information to join the call:
The dial in number is (800) 832-0736.
The room number (access code) is 5245195.

New York City needs your help. Here’s how individuals, businesses, and non-profits can help the City and fellow New Yorkers during this COVID-19 crisis:

Share Your Space: If you own or manage a large space, then take the Share Your Space Survey. The survey identifies spaces in your community that could potentially support the City’s emergency operations, such as their response to COVID-19.

DonateNYC: DonateNYC, a program of NYC Department of Sanitation, has resources for individuals, businesses, schools, and agencies to give and receive donated items.

HelpNow NYC: HelpNow NYC can connect New York State licensed medical professionals for potential surge staffing shifts in response to COVID-19.

New York Cares: If you are not a licensed medical professional, you can still help the COVID-19 response through New York Cares.

You can give back by giving blood. New York City needs approximately 2,000 people to donate blood every day to maintain its supply. Find a New York Blood Center near you.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Fresh Food, Fresh Attitude! Increasing Access to Healthy Grab-and-Go Items at Bronx Bodegas

William is the owner of Makey Deli, located at 2704 Third Avenue in the Bronx.

This post was written by Kelly Moltzen, Program Manager for Bronx Health REACH’s Creating Healthy Schools and Communities.

March 9 to 15 is World Salt Awareness Week. On average, Americans eat more than 3,400 mg. of sodium daily – more than double the American Heart Association’s recommended daily limit of 1,500 mg. 77% of the sodium that Americans consume comes from processed foods and food served in restaurants.

In the Bronx, items that people often buy at bodegas are processed foods high in sodium, including chips, deli meats, and cheese. Bronx Health REACH, Montfiore Medical Center and City Harvest are part of the Bronx Bodega Partners Workgroup, offering healthy food retail initiatives to encourage stores to stock healthier items, such as low-sodium deli meats and healthy snack alternatives. The Workgroup launched the Don’t Stress, Eat Fresh healthy bodega marketing campaign to increase awareness of these healthier options throughout the Bronx community.

Bronx Health REACH, with support from the American Heart Association’s NYC Community Impact Grant, is collaborating with the Bronx healthy food advocate, Shen’naque Sean Butler and his “FRESCH” campaign to expand the number of bodegas selling healthy grab-and-go items. To date, Sean has organized taste tests at bodegas, schools, and in the community, offering hummus, three-bean salad, a vegan salad, and pico de gallo. Future taste tests include cut vegetables with dip, fruit cups, and overnight oats. We hope the combination of taste tests and increased access to these healthy items for sale in the community, coupled with the Don’t Stress, Eat Fresh healthy bodega marketing campaign will offer Bronx residents new items they will get excited about and support their health!

Montefiore Medical Center is collaborating with the Jerome Gun Hill Business Improvement District (BID)  to support bodega owners selling healthy foods such as The Bronx Salad and other healthy grab-and-go items. By partnering with NYC Small Business Services, the Jerome Gun Hill BID offers bodegas compliance consultations, financial education, trainings, advertising and promotional support, and other business support resources.

City Harvest has established a relationship with Fairway to get healthy grab-and-go items sold in supermarkets and corner stores in the Bronx. After an initial pilot phase, the following seven Bronx stores are participating in the grab-and-go program:

1. Borinquen Supermarket, 436 Brook Avenue
2. Met Food Supermarket, 649 Jackson Avenue
3. Real Supermarket, 795 Prospect Avenue
4. Makey Deli, 2704 Third Avenue
5. D & D Deli, 100 West 168th Street
6. Moe’s Quick Deli, 469 Brook Avenue
7. Wanda’s Deli, 104 Elliot Place

Consuming less sodium and more fruits and vegetables – including the items promoted through the grab-and-go program – are part of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet plan, and is an important step in reducing the risk of diet-related diseases such as hypertension and stroke.

For more information, contact Kelly Moltzen via email or call (212) 633-0800 x 1328.


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