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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Bronx Health REACH Acknowledges NYC Council Members Support of Health Bucks

At the March 2nd Coalition meeting, Bronx Health REACH acknowledged NY City Council members Fernando Cabrera (on left in photo above), Vanessa L. Gibson, Rafael Salamanca, Jr. and Ritchie Torres who, from their respective budgets, collectively allocated $43,000 towards Health Bucks. Developed and distributed by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Health Bucks are paper vouchers worth $2 each that shoppers use to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers' market. Appearing at the meeting, Council member Cabrera spoke about the time an angiogram revealed he had a blocked artery and needed to have surgery, otherwise he would have had only twenty-four hours to live. That incident made Council member Cabrera change his eating habits and now he is a vegan with lower blood pressure. He urged all to join in fighting for healthy eating, especially for Bronx children.

 Aicha Bamba (in photo above on the right of Bronx Health REACH Director Charmaine Ruddock) accepted on behalf of Council member Ritchie Torres and John Zaccaro Jr. accepted on behalf of Rafael Salamanca, Jr. Mr. Zaccaro stated that Council Member Salamanca is pledging $50,000 towards Health Bucks in the upcoming FY 19 budget. From 2015 to 2017 Bronx Health REACH assisted 20 churches to distribute 4475 Health Bucks. From 2016 to 2017 600 Health Bucks were distributed to patients at 3 Institute for Family Health centers. The patients redeemed them during 15 farmers' market tours and a Fresh Food Box program.

Building Alcohol Ad-Free Transit Coalition Plot Next Move After Recent Victory

On February 13 members of the Bronx Health REACH coalition and other allies and supporters of Building Alcohol Ad-Free Transit's (BAAFT) came together to celebrate the victory of the MTA vote to ban alcohol ads on subways, buses and trains. The majority of those in attendance had participated in past rallies or appeared at various MTA public hearings in support of BAAFT. Bronx Health REACH's Charmaine Ruddock opened the event by acknowledging the leadership of Bob Pezzolesi the founder and head of BAAFT in garnering the support of such a diverse coalition that were so  instrumental in this victory improving the health and wellness of all residents.

Bob announced that following the October MTA vote and the media coverage banning alcohol ads, he has been contacted by other similar organizations from as far away as Sydney and London asking him for information and pointers about how they can also do the same for their transit systems. He also advised maintaining vigilance so that the MTA commits to keeping alcohol ads out of the system noting that the City of Boston had banned alcohol ads in 2013, but a recent proposal was made to allow some alcohol advertising to return.

Studies have confirmed that alcohol still contributes to an increase in health problems due to it being cheap, easily available, and marketed to many residing in high density areas. And because of the dangerous health effects from alcohol, Bob does not want the work of BAAFT to end and now sees taking the fight of removing alcohol advertising from neighborhoods as just one part of a larger movement to improving the health for all NYC residents. He believes those that participated in the movement to rid the MTA of alcohol ads can also connect with neighborhood groups that care about the same issues.

Corbin Hill Winter Farm Share Comes to Two Institute for Family Health Bronx-Based Health Centers

Bronx Health REACH, Stevenson Family Health Center and Mt. Hope Family Practice have partnered with Corbin Hill Food Project to host a Winter Farm Share where employees and patients can purchase vegetables and fruit every week for only $10. The Winter Farm Share at Stevenson Family Health Center is offered every Tuesday from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. The Mt. Hope Farm Share is offered every Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Since the January 23rd debut, over 125 people have purchased from the Winter Farm Share. Customers can pay with cash, credit card, debit card, EBT, or SNAP.

Interested participants can sign up in person or online. For further information about the Stevenson Health Center Farm Share, you can call Tiffany Diaz at (718) 589-8775 ext. 2832; for the Mt. Hope Farm Share, you can call Casey Luber at (718) 583-9000. Sign up now to enjoy fresh, local veggies and fruits!

REACH Funding Included in 2018 Federal Omnibus Bill

Great news! Last week’s passage by the U.S. Congress of its FY 2018 federal Omnibus Appropriations Bill includes $50,95M for the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) CDC program. The Institute for Family Health's Bronx Health REACH has been a REACH grantee since the inception of the program allowing us to develop our community coalition and partnerships to address the longstanding health disparities and their root causes in the Bronx.

This FY18 funding is a major victory given that, up to a few weeks ago, for the first time since its inception REACH had been zeroed out of the President’s budget as well as that of the House and the Senate. Huge thanks to our local representative Congressman Jose E. Serrano who made this a priority along with his colleagues in the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucus.  We also had several amazing partners in DC based organizations including , Trust for America's Health, American Public Health Association, Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAH), the YMCA, the National REACH Coalition (NRC), National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), Prevention Institute (PI) and the Public Health Institute who tirelessly advocated for the funding to be reinstated.

Like REACH communities across the country, the Bronx Health REACH Coalition serves as a model of community empowerment that demonstrates how to build healthier communities; promote primary prevention through healthy behaviors; increase awareness of racial and ethnic disparities and promote health equity; identify and promote models of community level change; support system wide changes that address the determinants of health and improve access to respectful, culturally sensitive and high quality care.

Bronx Health REACH applauds Congress for investing in the REACH program as it is the federal government’s only community-based program that addresses racial and ethnic health disparities in urban and rural areas.