Friday, September 8, 2023

Join us this FRIDAY SEPT 15 for Racism and Our Families’ Health: Connecting the Dots…Why the Conversation Matters from 10AM to 12PM


Join us this FRIDAY SEPT 15 for Racism and Our Families’ Health: Connecting the Dots…Why the Conversation Matters from 10AM to 12PM. The presentations and discussions will offer lessons in how to effectively respond to our most pressing social issues employing a lens of anti-racism. 


Click here to view Part 1 of a recent discussion with Stay Alive with Church Alive (hosted by Bishop Timothy Birkett) featuring Immaculada Moronta from The Institute for Family Health/Bronx Health REACH, Rev. Dr. Calvin R. Kendrick, Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in the Bronx, and Father David Powers from RC St. Helena Church as they discuss the Racism and Our Families Health series of webinars as they discuss: What is racism? What are the types of racism? Where do we find racism? Why does the conversation about race matters to all?

Click here to view Part 2 of a recent discussion with Stay Alive with Church Alive (hosted by Bishop Timothy Birkett) featuring Immaculada Moronta from The Institute for Family Health/Bronx Health REACH, Rev. Dr. Calvin R. Kendrick, Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in the Bronx, and Father David Powers from RC St. Helena Church as they discuss the Racism and Our Families Health series of webinars as they discuss the following: How is racism making us sick? How is racism affecting our wellbeing? How do you achieve equity goals as an organization and/or individuals?

Join Us 9/14 for The Bronx Responds:  One Year After the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health from Local to National Policies and Back

You are invited to join us on Thursday, September 14th (9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) for a virtual conference with thought provoking and action oriented discussions about food and nutrition-related work happening in the Bronx and the policy implications of this work.  In 2022, the White House held the first Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in over 50 years and as an outcome, earlier this year, a National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health was released.  The priorities of our national government and policymakers have implications for food access, affordability, and nutrition education in the Bronx and similar communities impacted by diet-related health disparities.

Topics include:

• Nutrition and Health Equity in the Bronx 

• Overview of the Farm Bill and Its Effects on Local Communities  

• Improving Food Access in Community Settings 

• Integrating Nutrition and Healthcare: Food as Medicine and Food insecurity screenings 

• Knowing What’s in Your Food: Bringing Nutrition Education to the Community

• Eating Soulfully 

• Reimagining your Local Bodega with Better Food 

• Envisioning the Food System of the Future 

Click Here to Register.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting via Zoom.

Speakers include:

Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson

Christina Badaracco,  Healthcare Consultant, Registered Dietitian, and Co-Author of The Farm Bill: A Citizens’ Guide

Dr. Jen Cadenhead, Executive Director, Teachers College Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education and Policy  

Rev. Dr. Christopher Carter, Author of The Spirit of Soul Food: Race, Faith, & Food Justice 

Ribka Getachew, Director of the NY Good Food Purchasing Program Campaign, Community Food Advocates 

Norma Gonzalez, Farm Share Manager, Corbin Hill Food Project 

Theresa Landau, Program Director, Morrisania WIC

Francisco Marte, President, Bodega and Small Business Group 

LaToya Meaders, Co-Founder and CEO, Collective Fare 

Dr. DeAnna Nara, Senior Policy Associate, Center for Science in the Public Interest 

Aleyna Rodriguez, Executive Director, Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center

Gladys Roman, Executive Director, Manna of Life Ministries

Ismail Samad, Interim Executive Director, Corbin Hill Food Project 

Chet Van Wert, Associate Research Scientist, NYU Stern School of Business


Thursday, August 31, 2023

Bronx Breastfeeding Reconvening 2023 - Strengthening the Community for a Successful Breastfeeding Journey


On May 19th, Bronx Healthy Start Partnership along with Morrisania Diagnostic & Treatment Center WIC Program (Morrisania WIC), Bronx Health REACH and other Bronx-based supporters hosted the Second Annual Virtual Bronx Breastfeeding Reconvening 2023. Approximately one hundred participants including mothers, healthcare professionals, and community leaders, came together to promote and advocate for breastfeeding within the Bronx community.

The Breastfeeding Reconvening serves as a forum for open dialogue and collaboration, with mothers at the center of the conversation, providing their firsthand experiences, challenges, and successes to inform the direction of the initiative, and most important, to normalize breastfeeding in the Bronx.  Presenters at this year’s Reconvening included breastfeeding advocates; Karla Lewis, BA, IBCLC; Allison Walsh, IBCLC, LCCE, FACCE, LLLL; Dianne Cassidy, MA, IBCLC-RLC, ALC; Katie Kelter MD, IBCLC; Chelsea Thompson, JD among others from across the borough. 

The morning began with a warm welcome and overview of the day from Alma Idehen of Bronx Healthy Start Partnership. Bronx Healthy Start is a collaboration led by Albert Einstein College of Medicine that works towards reducing infant mortality and improving women's health among women and mothers through outreach and enrollment in health insurance coverage under the  Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and connects families to medical homes.

Carla Lewis, facilitator of the Morrisania WIC Baby Café, kicked off the event with a conversation with Bronx mothers about their breastfeeding experiences including their challenges, successes, and needs. Carla asked each of the moms participating in the panel the following: ”What did you wish you had before and throughout your time breastfeeding” Three breastfeeding mothers shared that having a support system made a difference in their breastfeeding journey. It was an open and heartfelt conversation that allowed other mothers  to connect and share their own individual breastfeeding experiences. 

Dianne Cassidy, a lactation consultant, discussed research on how increased support for a breastfeeding mother leads to a longer duration of breastfeeding. Participants were asked to share positive ways someone can support a breastfeeding mother including family support, work accommodations, and high quality services from the prenatal period up to and beyond birth. A list was generated for supporters to use with their clients in the future. Allison Walsh’s presentation discussed communication to help families succeed during the lactation period. This included addressing conflicting information that hospitals, obstetrics, clinics, pediatricians, social workers, other Community Based Organizations and family members may provide, and how to communicate different norms, culture, and supports. The ultimate goal is to create a common language around breastfeeding that everyone can use to best support lactating mothers. Katie Kelter, MD, IBCLC discussed from a medical perspective how she is advocating for breastfeeding in the community. She provided recommendations such as starting breastfeeding education early by including it in K-12 school curriculums, providing more resources to families and supporters, increasing trainings for healthcare providers, offering more education on New York State Labor Laws in the workforce, and expanding funding for breastfeeding services. 

Chelsea Thompson from A Better Balance presented on back to work readiness for nursing mothers in NYC. She discussed the various work leaves for pregnant and lactating women and non-birthing partners such as the provisions of the Pump Act, the pending passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), and the effect they will have on families. The PWFA requires covered employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an "undue hardship."

Bronx Health REACH’s Rachel Ingram led the final session of the day by highlighting resources that would be beneficial to families and new mothers. Bronx Health REACH (BHR) provides trainings to help worksites and community spaces become breastfeeding friendly spaces. BHR also provides funding for two baby cafes in the Bronx: Morrisania WIC Baby Café and Bronx Healthy Start’s Breastfeeding Support Group. The Chocolate Milk Café is a national network developed by Black breastfeeding advocates and professionals to provide culturally congruent care to families of the African diaspora through peer-led lactation support and professional development programming. Professional support mentioned included WIC Peer Counselors and Doulas. WIC Peer Counselors are mothers in the community with personal breastfeeding experience who are trained to provide support to new mothers/parents. Doulas are trained to advise, inform, and offer emotional and physical comfort to parents, before, during, and after childbirth. Finally, there is virtual support available through NYC Warmline and the Compass App. The NYC Breastfeeding Warmline provides FREE virtual breastfeeding support from a Certified Lactation Consultant. Compass is a new app that supports parents from pregnancy through postpartum. The Reconvening wrapped up with participants joining breakout rooms to discuss ways in which the resources could be used in promoting breastfeeding and for community members and families to access and use. 

Closing remarks were made by Theresa Landau, MS, RDN, CDN, Program Director for Morrisania WIC, who thanked everyone for their input and attendance and encouraged all to join the next Bronx Breastfeeding Coalition meeting to continue the conversation. A Lactation Resource Guide with contact information and types of services offered was shared with participants and is listed below.

We look forward to seeing breastfeeding work in action at next year’s Reconvening!


Bronx Healthy Start Go To Lactation Resource Guide

Breastfeeding Disparities Qualitative Research Study

Paying it Forward – Dianne Cassidy, MA, IBCLC,-RLC, ALC

NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Doula Care

Bronx Doula Access Project

Friday, July 28, 2023

Improving School Physical Activity Access Through Open Streets


P.S. 32 teachers and students jumping rope at their Open Street event.   Photo credit: Street Lab

This blog post was written by Kelly Moltzen and Diana Bernal.

As part of the New York State Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Schools and Communities program, Bronx Health REACH worked with Equity Design, Street Lab, P.S. 32 The Belmont School (P.S. 32) and P.S. 18 The John Peter Zenger School (P.S. 18) to activate the schools’ surrounding spaces to increase students’ physical activity and create spaces known as “Open Streets” that can be utilized by the schools and their surrounding communities, for movement and fitness.

For many children school is where they receive the majority of their meals and physical activity to keep them healthy. School-based physical activity, included as part of a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP), can increase the physical activity that students receive at school. However, for many students in the Bronx this is not the case.  Too many do not get enough physical activity because of limited indoor space, lack of open space/safe streets, and underutilization of nearby parks, many of which are in disrepair. Even though the Bronx is the greenest Borough with one quarter of its land area made up of parks, it is also a fitness desert. There are many inequities seen throughout the Bronx that limit the access and utilization of all this green space, contributing to the high rates of chronic illnesses in the Bronx.

In response to these challenges, Bronx Health REACH has been working with P.S. 32 to make the school a fitness hub for the community; and with P.S. 18 to expose the community to different forms of physical activity. The goals of these schools is to provide physical activity opportunities before and after school and in doing so  improve the school spirit and to engage more of the community in physical activity.

P.S. 32 students utilized equipment provided by Street Lab to create their own soccer arena to play.   Photo: StreetLab.

Bronx Health REACH partnered with Equity Design and Street Lab to assist P.S. 32 and P.S. 18 in hosting their own Open Street events  during the 2022-2023 school year. In preparation for these events, P.S. 32 closed down Beaumont Avenue, between 183rd Street and Grote Street, and hosted Open Street events after school on two consecutive Tuesdays in October 2022, and on three consecutive Tuesdays in May 2023. Seven “WalkShops” were held with P.S. 32 second grade students, where they learned about what makes an Open Street. Students shared their themes of World Cup (soccer), Celebration of the Arts, and a Beaumont Avenue Waterpark at P.S. 32’s Spring Open Streets. Equity Design also led a walking group of students that would walk around the outside perimeter of the school. At P.S. 32's Open Streets events, school and community participation increased every week through word of mouth. During the 3 consecutive Tuesdays in May 2023, participation increased from about 100 participants on the first Tuesday to 200 by the third Tuesday. Parents and community members participated in the Open Street events and everyone expressed how great it was to see a safe place where students can have fun. 


Cyclists from Major Taylor joined P.S. 18’s Open Street events teaching community residents how to ride a bike. Photo: Equity Design.

P.S. 18 closed down 148th Street between Morris Avenue and College Avenue, and hosted Open Street events on 3 consecutive Saturdays in October 2022 and one in May 2023. P.S. 18 was gifted 65 bikes and helmets by USA Cycling and Major Taylor Development, an inclusive national cycling club. Thanks to this partnership, P.S. 18 was able to realize their vision of introducing students to other forms of physical activity, starting with biking. Major Taylor Development also provided a biking clinic during P.S. 18’s Open Street events. Students learned how to ride a bike safely at the Open Street events. In the Spring P.S. 18 held a Teachers’ Appreciation Open Street event providing teachers with an opportunity to experience the Open Street and connecting with one another through games and bike riding. P.S. 18 students and community members from the nearby NYC Housing Authority development who had never been on a bike were able to learn how to ride and practice on the closed street. During their 3 consecutive Saturdays in October 2022, registration on the first Saturday had only 15 students, but by the third Saturday over 90 students registered to ride a bike.

Bronx Health REACH will continue working with P.S. 32 and P.S. 18 providing the necessary support so that each school’s Wellness Council takes ownership of the planning and organization of Open Streets with the goal of sustainability. Our hope is that these Open Street events demonstrates the need for cleaner and safer streets for the schools and the community so elected officials and other community leaders become more active partners so community members have increasing access to physical activity. By supporting the schools in implementing Open Streets, this is a step towards implementing permanent infrastructure changes and “Complete Streets” - thereby realizing the vision of the schools and meeting the needs of the community.


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