Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Farm Share Program Wraps Up Successful Season at Two Community Health Centers



This post was written by Milagros Neyra, Community Health Project Manager.

The Bronx Health REACH/Corbin Hill Farm Share Program wrapped up a successful season with over 500 bags of fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables distributed to Mt. Hope, Morris Heights, and Soundview residents. While the Farm Share site at the Institute for Family Health’s (IFH) Stevenson Family Health Center continued for a second year, IFH’s Walton Family Health Center debuted as a new, second location for the Farm Share program.

The summer Farm Share season ran from July to November 2019. Participants picked up their bags, consisting of five to seven vegetables and one fruit, at the Walton Family Health Center on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month, and Stevenson participants picked up their bags on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month. From its inception, the Farm Share program was designed to give the neighborhood residents access to affordable, locally grown fresh produce. Recipes were provided so customers would have creative ways to prepare their vegetables at home. Cooking demonstrations, led by community chefs and supported by the Corbin Hill Food Project, were held at the locations allowing customers to taste test recipes using the vegetables.

“Having the Farm Share program at the Walton Family Health Center brought our patients, community members, and staff together for a common goal: to be able to purchase affordable, fresh produce, that is otherwise difficult to access in this community,” said Marlin Morel, Farm Share site coordinator for the Walton Family Health Center. “As a Health Coach, my goal is to teach our patients that food is the best medicine, and eating a balanced diet of fresh, whole foods is instrumental in their journey to better health.”

To participate in the program, patients, staff, and community members can sign up onsite or online at any time. By placing an order at least one week in advance of the pick-up date, participants can enjoy high quality and locally grown produce delivered to their health centers. “I'm so grateful that this program was in our neighborhood. Health statistics for the Bronx are very devastating and we desperately need this type of program, as well as the cooking and education about the right things to eat,” said Veronica Millender, a resident of Castle Hill for 43 years and a Farm Share program participant since 2018. “Having the Farm Share year round would mean more healthy residents and less chronic conditions. The big picture is the Bronx having healthier residents who are eating well and can afford to buy fresh produce for their families.”

Participants purchased the produce using cash, credit, debit, EBT/SNAP and Health Bucks. The affordable prices and flexibility of payment options, makes the Farm Share program accessible for all to purchase foods that may have been previously unattainable. The Winter Farm Share Season is scheduled to begin mid-January at the Stevenson and Walton locations. The Winter Farm Share Season begins January 14th at the Walton Family Health Center and January 21st at the Stevenson Family Health Center. If you would like to participate, you can order online or email Mila Neyra, Community Health Project Manager at mineyra@institute.org, or call (212) 633-0800 ext. 1224.

Bronx Health REACH and the Institute for Family Health Urban Horizons Family Health Center Help Address Food Insecurity amongst Patients



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

Bronx Health REACH and the Institute for Family Health’s Urban Horizons Family Health Center (IFH) are implementing an innovative program that aims to bridge the gap between a health center and community-based organizations (CBOs) to improve patients’ health behaviors and health outcomes.

This CDC-funded program will have two main components: a screening phase and a referral phase. At the IFH Urban Horizons Family Health Center, all patients who are 18 years and older will be screened to determine if they are food insecure.

Patients who identify as food insecure will meet with a physician who will then refer them to a case manager. The case manager will connect the patient with resources in the community using “Aunt Bertha,” an online platform that lists up-to-date information about community-based organizations, as well as tracks the referrals to ensure that the needs of the patient are met. Bronx Health REACH is developing partnerships with food pantries and soup kitchens near Urban Horizons Family Health Center to ensure that these organizations have the ability to serve our patients.

We are ideally looking for food pantries and soup kitchens that accept a wide range of clients, serve/provide healthy foods, and offer additional support services. The goal of this intervention is to provide patients who lack sufficient food at home to have access to, and consume, nutritionally healthy foods. This is important, as many of our patients suffer from diabetes, hypertension and obesity. One patient has told us, “I just accept what they (the food pantry) offer. There’s not a lot of really fresh food, only one fruit.” Another patient added, “They have old food and it is not healthy. We need to help people with illnesses to prevent chronic conditions.”

The Food Insecurity Screening and Referral Program will be monitored and evaluated by our evaluation team to measure the impact of the program. We will report on the number of patients screened positively for food insecurity at Urban Horizons Family Health Center and referred to CBOs in their neighborhood. Data will also be collected on the number of patients identified as food insecure who have a diagnosis of diabetes, hypertension or obesity.

When analyzing the data, our evaluation team will estimate the percentage of patients screened for food insecurity who are no longer food insecure after one year of receiving supplemental foods at the CBOs, as a means of measuring program impact. Additionally, we will evaluate the potential impact of the program on patient blood sugar level, blood pressure level and/or weight.

To ensure that patients are satisfied with the Food Insecurity Screening and Referral Program, a sample of patients who were part of the program will be interviewed during the first 6 months of the intervention. We will also solicit feedback from participating staff at the health center and CBOs.

Bronx Health REACH plans to share key findings from this innovative program. If the program is successful, the ultimate goal will be to scale up and implement the Food Insecurity Screening and Referral Program at all Institute for Family Health centers to help mitigate food insecurity amongst our patients and by doing so, improve their health status.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Bronx Health REACH Coalition's #Not62 Rally in the Media


The Bronx Health REACH Coalition's #Not62 rally, held on December 2, received a lot of media attention in December. Our Health Disparities Workgroup members appeared on Bronxnet's Stay Alive with Church Alive and OPEN. Bronxnet also covered the rally and interviewed some of the featured speakers. Finally, the Riverdale Press and the Bronx Times covered the rally as well.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Bronx Health REACH Health Disparities Workgroup Meets with Mayor; Holds Rally at City Hall to Demand that Elected Officials Make the Bronx a Priority

Members of the Bronx Health REACH Health Disparities Workgroup presented Mayor Bill de Blasio with over 2000 signed postcards from Bronx residents urging elected officials to make the health of the Bronx a priority.

 On Monday, November 25th, members of the Bronx Health REACH Coalition’s Health Disparities Workgroup met with Mayor Bill de Blasio to discuss the need for his administration to prioritize the Bronx in light of its persistent last place ranking in health outcomes among New York State’s 62 counties. The Coalition asked the Mayor to ensure that his Administration makes the health of the Bronx a top priority at all levels and in all sectors of New York City’s government, including healthcare, housing, economic development, education, transportation, etc. To demonstrate the broad concern about this problem among Bronx residents, Bronx Health REACH Project Director Charmaine Ruddock and two members of the Health Disparities Workgroup presented the Mayor with over 2,000 signed postcards from Bronx residents.

For the past ten years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin have released the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Report that measures health outcomes and contributing factors such as education, employment, income and the environment, all of which contribute to the community’s health and the quality of life of its residents. The 2019 report ranked Bronx County 62 out of the 62 counties in New York State, as it has in each of the previous 9 reports. Presently the health ranking of the other four counties/boroughs of NYC is: NYC/Manhattan (5); Queens (8); Brooklyn/Kings County (17); Staten Island/Richmond County (28). All four had their rankings improve from last year. Not so the Bronx.

At the meeting, the Bronx Health REACH representatives asked the Administration to create a task force to identify and address the factors that continually keep the Bronx ranked as the unhealthiest county; have all New York City agencies make the Bronx a funding priority; and appoint a liaison from the Mayor’s office to work with the #Not62: A Campaign for a Healthy Bronx!

Over 50 people attended a #Not62 Rally on the steps of New York City Hall to demand that New York State elected officials make the health of the Bronx a top priority at all levels and in all sectors of government.

 On Tuesday, December 3rd over 50 people gathered for a #Not62: The Campaign for a Healthy Bronx! rally on the steps of New York City Hall. Community leaders from several Bronx based community groups and Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson joined the rally to ask the Mayor, the Bronx Borough President, City Council members and New York State elected officials make the health of the Bronx a top priority.

“The Bronx Health REACH Coalition and its many partners and collaborators have been working hard to ensure that Bronx residents have all the opportunities they need to be healthier,
but we can only do so much. If the Bronx is to no longer rank dead last in all New York State counties in health outcomes, the health of its residents must become a top priority of the elected leadership of New York City and New York State and the entire Bronx community,” remarked Charmaine Ruddock, Project Director for Bronx Health REACH.

Dr. Neil Calman, President and CEO of the Institute for Family Health, which has led the Bronx Health REACH Coalition since 1999, stated, “It is critical that the state and the city work together to address social determinants of health – housing, education, and employment – in order to make real, sustainable changes in the health of the community.”

“Though progress in the Bronx has been made to address the health disparities that persist, much more work remains to be done,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson (Bronx, District 16). “The Jerome Avenue Public Health Taskforce will be releasing a report examining the social determinants of health along Jerome Avenue. By focusing on housing, economic development, public outdoor spaces, healthcare quality and access, and our local food environment, this report will highlight the many ways we can collaborate on all levels of government as well as through local community partnerships to turn the tide on the overall health of our community, and the Bronx as a whole.”

“Year after year, the Bronx ranks 62 out of 62 in health outcomes – the result of a myriad of factors, including air and water pollution, insufficient access to safe and affordable housing, and a lack of access to quality healthcare,” said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx/Westchester). “If we want our laws to reflect our promise to keep New Yorkers healthy, we must create comprehensive, health coverage for all and pass the New York Health Act. We must prioritize the Bronx at both the state and city level – by putting the Bronx at the top of the list we can start to reverse the trend, and improve health outcomes for Bronxites.”

In 2014 #Not62: A Campaign for A Healthy Bronx! was launched by the Bronx Borough President, the Bronx District Public Health Office, the Institute for Family Health/Bronx Health REACH, and Montefiore Health Systems, Inc. as a direct response to the ranking.

As a founding member of #Not62: A Campaign for a Healthy Bronx!, the Institute for Family Health/Bronx Health REACH Coalition is proud of its efforts to serve as a model of community empowerment that demonstrates how to build healthier communities. We do this by promoting primary prevention through health education; and advocating for the necessary policy, systems and environmental changes that leads to a transformed community that supports health and wellness.

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