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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Healthy Cooking Demos Prove that Bodegas Can Sell Healthy and Delicious Food

This post was written by Bronx Health REACH staff member Zaira Hernandez-Cinto.

As a South Bronx native I have never associated bodegas with healthy food, and most people I know tend to associate bodegas with unhealthy snacks such as soda, potato chips and candy. To clear up some of the misconceptions that people have had that bodegas only sell unhealthy food, Bronx Health REACH, in partnership with the Bodega Association of the United Stated (ASOBEU), and the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network (HITN) has been holding healthy cooking demos at three of our healthy model bodegas.

Brito Deli, located at 309 Crimmins Avenue, hosted the first food demonstration. Although it was a rainy day, many people took part in the cooking demo. Pamela Di Gregorio, the community chef leading the food demonstrations, came up with a delicious and healthy recipe using items that can be bought at Brito Deli. She created a Southwestern Salad with a Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette, a recipe that featured low sodium canned black beans, tomatoes, red peppers, corn, lettuce and a delicious vinaigrette made from extra virgin olive oil, lime, cilantro and other ingredients. The salad was well received by the customers, and many of those who stopped by to sample it were surprised to learn that the salad was made from ingredients sold at the deli. Some customers remarked that they usually associated the bodega with unhealthy food, but were happy to receive and taste the Southwestern salad. 35 people tried the salad over the hour long demonstration.

Another healthy food demonstration took place at A & M Supermarket Deli, located at 1393 Webster Avenue. Pamela used the same Southwestern salad with a Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette recipe, but this time the food demonstration took place outside of the store to attract the attention of the neighborhood. The reaction from those passing by was very positive. People were excited to try the salad and loved that they were receiving a recipe along with the sample. Many people expressed the need for nutrition education and assistance in creating healthy dishes that are delicious and easy to prepare. The owner and staff of A & M Supermarket Deli also loved the salad and were helpful in getting skeptical customers to try the samples. Some customers who admitted not liking vegetables were pleasantly surprised to discover how much they enjoyed the salad. A total of 55 people tried the salad.

The food demonstration at La Bodeguita de Rosaura at 164 East 174th Street was also a success. 50 customers were surprised that a salad could be so delicious and filling. Customers expressed a need for nutrition education and ideas on how they could make healthy meals. The customers felt that although they knew that they needed to eat healthier, they did not know how to distinguish between healthy or unhealthy foods. The work being done with our healthy model bodegas can bridge that gap by providing nutrition education and recipes so people can make healthy dishes that not only taste delicious, but are nutritious as well.

After the positive responses and feedback from the customers who attended the healthy cooking demos, I believe that local residents can see bodegas as a place to purchase healthy foods. The Healthy Model Bodega Initiative aims to break the misconception that bodegas only sell junk food and will aid them in becoming healthier shopping destinations for the community. Please support our bodegas and look out for our next food demo, by following us on Instagram and Facebook.

Parents from PS 35 Farmer’s Market Tour

This post was written by Bronx Health REACH intern Wilka Diaz.

On a beautiful, warm Tuesday morning in October, Bronx Health REACH conducted a farmers market tour at the Bronx Borough Hall Farmers Market for fourteen parents from Public School 35. The group discussed the health benefits of incorporating vegetables and fruits into their diets. Parents discussed strategies to get children to eat more fruits and vegetables. Ideas suggested included the use of colorful plates and tasting each new food at least three times.

As the tour continued, Bronx Health REACH informed parents that local farmers markets sell seasonal produce and that at the end of the growing season many of the markets close November 17. Parents were also told of the year-round Fresh Food Box at BronxWorks on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. located at 1130 Grand Concourse. Many expressed interest in the fact that it was year round.

The tour included information about Health Bucks, the $2 coupons used to purchase fruits and vegetables at farmers markets around New York City. $10 worth of Health Bucks was distributed to the parents thanks to Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson who had secured $5000 worth of Health Bucks in an effort to encourage her constituents to purchase produce at their local farmers markets. Parents were encouraged to ask farmers about their customers favorite items at the market.

Overall, the tour was an excellent way to let parents know of the many ways their families can eat healthy. Many community members approached the parents and asked about Health Bucks, and how they can join the tour. When asked if they would attend these events in the future, all the PS35 parents responded “Yes!” One parent said she liked the tour because she discovered a nearby farmers market and liked the idea of going as a group. Another parent appreciated the information about the Fresh Food Box, while another parent stated, “I really like the fact that we can have so many fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Bronx Health REACH will be hosting more farmers market tours in November with various schools in the Bronx. Each tour will consist of a brief nutrition education workshop, resource giveaways, and an opportunity for each participant to spend $10 worth of Health Bucks on fresh produce from the market.

NY1 Story on The Bronx Salad

Chef King held a training on how to prepare The Bronx Salad for the restaurants participating in the Healthy Restaurant Initiative.

NY1 covered The Bronx Salad in the piece, "Despite its Reputation, Chef Hopes to Establish the Bronx as a Healthy Place to Eat with a Namesake Salad," and you can view it here.

Monday, October 17, 2016

News12Bronx Covers The Bronx Salad

News12Bronx stopped by the Mott Haven Bar and Grill to cover The Bronx Salad. You can view it here.