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Monday, February 5, 2018

The Bronx Salad Available at Seven Bronx Eateries During NYC Restaurant Week Winter 2018

                                              Photo by The Bronxer

The Bronx Salad is now available at seven Bronx eateries during NYC Restaurant Week Winter 2018 through February 9. Launched in the Bronx in 2016, The Bronx Salad is part of the Healthy Restaurant Initiative, a collaboration between the Institute for Family Health’s Bronx Health REACH Coalition, South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBRO), and the United Business Cooperative (UBC). The Bronx Salad and its signature dressing have received unanimous praise from over 1,000 Bronxites. Made with simple, fresh ingredients, the dressing includes the famous Bronx Greenmarket Hot Sauce, created by acclaimed Chef King Phojanakong, using peppers grown at more than 40 Bronx greenmarket farms and community gardens.

The Bronx Salad is available at the following Bronx locations during NYC Restaurant Week Winter 2018:

Bronx Tavern 780 East 133rd Street, Bronx, NY 10454
Da Boogiedown Caffe 555 Bergen Avenue, Bronx, NY 10455
Fine Fare Supermarket 459 East 149th Street, Bronx, NY 10455
Mottley Kitchen 402 East 140th Street, Bronx, NY 10454
NY Bagel Cafe & Deli 53 Bruckner Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10454
Porto Salvo 424 East 161st Street, Bronx, NY 10451
XM Cafe at Bronx Museum 1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10456

To date The Bronx Salad has been offered in several Bronx eateries and has been served to over 500 people at public events in the Bronx such as Boogie on the Boulevard. Initially planned as part of a healthy menu initiative with local eateries, The Bronx Salad has expanded beyond restaurants and is now served at schools and after school programs. BronxWorks has served The Bronx Salad to over 600 people in their children, teen, and adult programs, and The Bronx Salad Toolkit for Schools has been given out to fifteen schools in the South Bronx. Five of those schools have grown and harvested some of the ingredients for the salad.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

NYC Department of Education Releases 2017 Wellness Policy

In mid-December, the NYC Department of Education released the revised NYC School Wellness Policy in Principals’ Weekly. This policy guides NYC school districts' efforts to create supportive school nutrition and physical activity environments with the assistance of a local wellness council. School Wellness Policies are a USDA requirement for all school districts participating in the federal breakfast and lunch programs as per the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 [Sec. 204 of Public Law 111-296] and Child Nutrition and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act [Sec. 204 of Public Law 108-265].

The revised policy provides comprehensive guidelines on physical activity, physical education, health education and services and policy governance all in one document for the first time.  An interesting new requirement is that the New York City Department of Education is now required to share recordkeeping and progress reports on wellness policy compliance with the public. The policy also now includes resources available through the DOE to establish physical activity programs before and after school such as the CHAMPS sports and fitness program. The Active Design Toolkit for Schools  and Active Design Playbook for Early Childcare Settings are also highlighted as resources to create school environments that promote physical activity and healthy food/beverage choices. The updated policy provides information and resources on: State and local physical and health education instruction requirements, recommendations and expectations; and the roles of the citywide District Wellness Advisory Council, School Wellness Councils, and members of the school and local community in supporting healthy schools by implementing the citywide wellness policy.

The easiest way for schools to ensure they are in DOE policy compliance is to include the information for Physical and Health Education in the Student Transition Achievement Success (STARS) report which should include all the wellness programming they are already accomplishing. Schools should also feel welcome to share success stories with the Office of School Wellness and Bronx Health REACH, so other schools can learn about their exemplary work. In addition, schools are encouraged to register their wellness council on the Office of School Wellness portal where there are useful resources for developing and planning a wellness council and policy. (See events below for upcoming trainings for wellness councils.)

Friday, February 2, 2018

Parent Tasting Event at P.S. 443/P.S. 457: The Alternative Menu

On November 16th, greeted by center pieces adorned with harvest vegetables and the aroma of fall food, twenty-two parents and forty children from P.S. 443/P.S. 457 participated in a tasting of the Alternative Menu – one of three school menus from which school principals can choose. The event, co-sponsored by the NYC Department of Education’s Garden to Café/Office of School Food offered a welcome respite from parent-teacher conferences occurring throughout the day.

Before the tasting began, Bronx Health REACH’s Moria Byrne-Zaaloff and FoodCorps member Angela Doyle, working with P.S. 443, held a brief workshop with the parents to discuss the important role school food plays in their children’s health. Moria and Angela spoke about how most students eat two-thirds of their recommended calories in school, and a diet that consists of colorful whole vegetables and fruits fuels students’ brains and bodies with the necessary nutrients to grow and learn.

The Alternative Menu encourages students to eat more plant-based foods made from scratch without added sugar or salt. By eating more food high in fiber, with lean protein and whole grains, students will have the energy to focus and perform well in school throughout the day. Moria and Angela emphasized how students can still eat their favorite foods such as hamburgers during the school lunch period, but the burger would be served on a whole grain bun with a healthy chickpea and tomato side salad instead of French fries.

The event culminated with a tasting of Alternative Menu items that included cinnamon-spiced acorn squash, beet-apple slaw and Jonquil apple slices, all from local New York farms. Parents complimented the cooking of Holly Howitt and George Edwards, Chefs from the Garden to Café program of Office of School Food. Garden to Café is an initiative of the Office of School Food and FoodCorps that provides bi-annual taste testings at schools to encourage children to consume more fruits and vegetables during the school day, and how to make healthier food choices. They were thrilled to see their children willing to try the healthy foods being offered. Parents left the event with recipes, and a reusable place mat with information about the Alternative Menu along with how to get their child’s school to switch to this menu.

Thank you to George Edwards, Coordinator-Garden to Cafe Program and Holly Howitt, Chef of School Food, and FoodCorps member Angela Doyle for taking on this challenge and making it a huge success!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Parents from Three Partner Schools Participate in Farmer’s Market Tours

Bronx Health REACH intern Elecia Faaiuaso (left) speaking with attendees of a farmers market tour.

This post was written by Bronx Health REACH intern Elecia Faaiuaso.

This fall, Bronx Health REACH gave parents of students from Bronx East Academy, Bronx Charter School of the Arts, and Hyde Leadership Charter School the chance to pick fresh fruits and vegetables without ever leaving the Bronx. Bronx Health REACH staff hosted three farmers’ market tours for 22 parents residing in District 8. Within minutes of arriving in the park, alive with fall foliage, parents saw the bountiful produce stands and lit up with excitement ready to dig in! Parents walked over to further investigate the inviting smells of honey crisp apples and bouquets of peppery arugula. The journey for better health had begun before the tour even started.

The farmers’ market tour included both nutrition information followed by time to shop in the market. Farmers’ market tours make fresh food more accessible and are a great way to provide instantaneous opportunities for healthy eating with new recipe ideas to cook nutritious meals for the participants’ families. Parents who participated received $10 worth of Health Bucks — $2 coupons used to purchase fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. Health Bucks were provided by Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr.’s office, who secured $22,000 worth of Health Bucks for his constituents in this year’s budget. Thank you Council Member Salamanca for supporting these efforts in your district!

Despite the cool, brisk air in the park, parents enthusiastically participated in a rich discussion about the benefits of farmers’ markets, the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available, and the affordable prices. Staff also noted the importance of maintaining a healthy, fiber-rich diet with fruits and vegetables.  “It keeps everything moving along thus cleaning your system!” exclaimed the staff member. At the end, parents were given informational material, including a My Plate Planner, a guide for harvest times for vegetables and fruits, a list of starchy versus non-starchy vegetables, and tips for getting children to eat more fruits and vegetables. After receiving the tips and materials, parents were eager to share their own personal experiences, cooking methods, and food storage advice. One parent shared a unique way to preserve “sofrito” made with fresh herbs — freezing it in ice cube trays. Staff ended the discussion session by thanking the parents for attending and saying how helpful it is to hear cooking tips and food shopping experiences from parents, as they hold the power in the kitchen and determine what the family eats.

After the discussion, parents were encouraged to speak to the farmers about the produce being sold and to try fruits or vegetables they may not have eaten before. With Health Bucks in hand and excitement on their faces, shopping for healthy produce commenced!  Walking through the tents, parents marveled at the affordable prices and were thrilled to be able to buy unfamiliar produce such as acorn squash and familiar items like Bosc pears. Many of the parents on the tour left the market with 3 to 4 bags of fruits and vegetables!

At the end of the tour, Bronx Health REACH had parents share their shopping experience at the farmers’ market. One parent expressed her appreciation for the local farmers and their commitment to “come to the city to provide us with fresh produce in [their] area”. They all agreed that the market was very clean, and the vendors were friendly and provided fresh, affordable produce. The parents would like to see Bronx Health REACH provide more tours so that others could “learn and enjoy” these farmers’ markets as much as they did. One parent commented that she would always pass by the farmers’ market while riding the bus, and even though she wanted to stop and check it out, she never had the money to do so. She pointed out that the Health Bucks helped make it easier for her to purchase fresh produce from the farmers’ market and eat healthy. Bronx Health REACH hopes to arrange additional farmers’ market tours for parents in the spring of 2018 when farmers’ markets reopen.

Visit the GrowNYC website to stay up-to-date on events and the farmers’ market schedule.