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Monday, October 9, 2017

The Bronx Salad Makes its Debut at BronxWorks

The Bronx Salad made its debut on the BronxWorks menu this spring! The Bronx Salad initially planned as part of a healthy menu initiative with local restaurants has expanded beyond restaurants. It is now served at schools, after school programs and bodegas. There is even now The Bronx Salad Toolkit for Schools recently created by Bronx Health REACH and Grow to Learn NYC. BronxWorks adapted “The Bronx Salad” Toolkit for Schools.

On the rooftop garden of the BronxWorks Carolyn McLaughlin Community Center, afterschool students grew and harvested many of the Bronx salad ingredients including cilantro, corn and kale. The Program Coordinator from the afterschool program, Project Achieve, and the Horticulturalist at BronxWorks guided participants in growing the ingredients. Engaging the children throughout the process of growing, harvesting, preparing, and eating the Bronx Salad included conducting more than 60 lessons addressing nutrition and gardening. Many of the ingredients of the Bronx Salad were explored by the children in the classroom through STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities.

Kim Wong, a program director at BronxWorks explained, “Feedback on the salad has been very positive and we plan to continue to grow the salad ingredients in our roof top garden and offer it in our BronxWorks afterschool program meals as well as at our BronxWorks meetings and events.” The Bronx Salad has been served to over 600 participants in children, teen, and adult programs. The salad was such a huge hit that it will now be offered once a month at the afterschool program.

So far, the Bronx Salad Toolkit for Schools and starter seed kit has been given out to over fifteen schools in the South Bronx and grown and harvested in five of those. To learn how to grow the Bronx Salad in your school garden, download The Bronx Salad Toolkit.

Universal PE Initiative Makes Gym a Priority for New York City Schools

In June 2017, New York City Mayor de Blasio and city leadership announced the city’s Universal Physical Education (PE) Initiative which will provide all schools with a designated space for PE by 2021. The initiative will invest approximately $385 million over the next four years in Capital funding to improve at least 200 schools, out of a total of 1,629, that do not currently have a gymnasium. The first phase will focus on 76 schools that do not have any designated PE space. Thirteen Bronx schools will be renovated in the first phase of the Universal PE Initiatitve.

In the Bronx, 43% of elementary school students are overweight or obese, higher than the rest of NYC boroughs. Lack of physical activity is a significant factor contributing to childhood obesity. To further investigate the state of physical education in the South Bronx, Bronx Health REACH (BHR) conducted a district-wide assessment of PE in 2015/16. The assessment looked at PE instruction and gym spaces in South Bronx District 9 elementary schools. The assessment revealed that only 8% of the schools are meeting the weekly physical education recommendation of 120 minutes for K through 12 students.

BHR has met with, and will continue to work with the New York City Department of Education to meet the needs in schools for PE spaces. BHR has worked with several of the District 9 schools lacking PE space to implement active design projects that utilize small equipment and materials transforming areas in and around school buildings to promote physical activity.  One such school is Grant Ave Elementary School which is bringing ‘Big Blue Blocks’ to turn their empty yard into a playground. Another is PS 35 where students currently use the multipurpose room as a gym. The school is working to improve the space with art and play equipment.

Universal PE will build upon the Mayor’s PE Works initiative, a groundbreaking, multi-year, $100 million investment launched in April 2016 that envisions PE as a core component of the school curriculum. Not only is PE Works addressing space constraints, but it is also developing a K-12 PE Scope and Sequence so that teachers, administrators, and parents have a shared understanding of the benchmarks of good PE instruction for students at all grades. By June 2019, with the staffing of nearly 500 new certified PE teachers in elementary schools that previously had none, all elementary schools are expected to meet State PE requirements.

BHR as a long-time member of the Phys Ed (PE) 4 All Coalition, is actively engaged in efforts to increasing access to physical education in New York City public schools. The PE4All Coalition includes members from community-based organizations, advocates, parents, educators, and health professionals united by shared concerns about child health in schools. The PE4All coalition has taken the multi-pronged approach to achieving the goal of all NYC public school students provided with quality PE through: (1) community education, (2) outreach and (3) legislative advocacy. To learn more about this coalition and how to get involved, visit the PE4All website.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Pastor Robert L. Foley Sr. Receives Award for Commitment to Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

At a ceremony commemorating Pastor Robert L. Foley's many years of service as pastor of Cosmopolitan Church of the Lord Jesus, Bronx Health REACH's Charmaine Ruddock presented Pastor Foley with an award for his exceptional leadership, vision and commitment to making health equality a reality in the Bronx. Pastor Foley has been a partner with Bronx Health REACH for over seventeen years, starting when the Institute for Family Health launched a community coalition whose goal was the elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities in the South Bronx.

Pastor Foley Sr. has been a leader in the Bronx advocating for long term sustainable change to the conditions that contribute to Bronx residents living sicker and dying younger than they should. In addition to his work with Bronx Health REACH he had been a leader in the Black United Leadership in the Bronx (BULB). He also serves as a member of the Community Advisory Board of Montefiore Hospital, the Advisory Board of the Bronx Region of the American Cancer Society, the New York Yankees Community Relations Council, and the Police/Clergy Liaison of the NYPD.

He has been a force to be reckoned with in ensuring that Bronx residents live in a Bronx that allows them to have long, healthy lives.

Read about the Bronx Health REACH profile on Pastor Foley.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Bronx Health REACH Promotes Anti-Sugary Drink Campaign to Bronx Residents

With a grant from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bronx Health REACH with its partner Mainland Media has been promoting delicious fruit infused water for the public to sample as an alternative to sugary drinks. At the same time raising awareness of the health impact of sugary drinks and to counter the beverage industry’s marketing of those drinks in the South Bronx. Residents get to taste watermelon and mint, strawberry and basil, and mixed berry fruit infused water. Many are encouraged to drink water in place of sugar sweetened beverages for the health and cost-saving benefits.

The Mainland team has appeared at the South Bronx Farmers Market and the June, July and August Boogie on the Boulevard events. At the July and August Boogie events the drinking stations were crowded by many bicyclists seeking relief from the heat, requesting their water bottles to be filled with the fruit infused water. Overall, residents enjoyed the water and were given recipes to make their own delicious fruit infused water at home. Visit this page to learn more about avoiding the harmful effects of sugary beverages.