Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jumpstart Life-long Healthy Eating Habits with your Child in the Bronx: Get Involved!

Improving the school food environment through your child’s school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and your Community


Healthy Fundraisers

School Breakfast Program

Child Nutrition Reauthorization & the School Lunch Program

Farmers Markets

Kids and Gardening

Supermarkets & Bodegas

Bronx Health REACH

Strategic Alliance for Health

What’s On Your Plate? Film

Let’s Move

People’s Garden NYC

More Resources

Online Videos

Farmers Markets in the Bronx

Healthy Fundraisers

Many school PTAs sell unhealthy foods such as candy or potato chips as fundraisers for their school, to fund after-school activities. Parents and teachers want the best for their children, but these unhealthy foods actually make children believe that these foods are acceptable snacks and can be consumed on a regular basis. As an alternative, the District Public Health Office has developed a Fundraiser Guide to help PTAs choose healthy food (or non-food!) options for school fundraisers. The toolkit can be found at this link:

School Breakfast Program

Many children either do not eat breakfast in the morning or pick up an unhealthy option, such as a bacon, egg & cheese sandwich, for breakfast on their way to school. When children don’t start the day off right with a healthy breakfast, they’re more likely to have difficulty paying attention and focusing on classwork while at school. The Department of Education has approved all schools in New York City to have a school breakfast program, but many schools have not signed up yet or only offer the program to a few classes at the school. The school breakfast program means that every child in the classrooms to which it is provided will get the same, healthy breakfast – a great way to start off the day. If your child does not currently participate in the School Breakfast Program, speak with the principal at your school or your school’s PTA about the possibility of signing up or expanding the program to cover more students.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization and the School Lunch Program

The Department of Education’s Office of SchoolFood (OSF) works hard within its budget to make sure all children get a school lunch that meets certain nutritional standards while also tasting good to the children.However, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) only gives a certain amount of money to improve school food, and this amount of money is not enough for the OSF to make all the changes it would like to. There is currently a bill in Congress called Child Nutrition Reauthorization, which if passed will increase the amount of money spent on childhood nutrition programs – including school food – by $4.5 billion over 10 years. This would bring healthier foods into all schools, including vending machine items.However, the amount of money that is truly needed to improve school food is $4 billion per year. To find information on how to call your Congressman to ask for more money for child nutrition, see this link:

Another thing you can do to improve the quality of school food is: together with your child’s principal and PTA, speak to Billy Doherty at the Office of School Food about connecting your child’s school to a local farmer to get fresh, local fruits and vegetables delivered to the school. Many farmers from local areas, such as Upstate New York and other nearby states, already sell their fruits and vegetables to people in NYC at farmers markets.

More on Farmers Markets…

There are many farmers markets located throughout the city, including some in the Bronx. These are hosted by Greenmarket and by Harvest Homes.Most farmers markets accept cash, WIC checks, EBT (food stamps), and Health Bucks ($2 coupons distributed by the NYC Department of Health).At farmers markets that accept food stamps, one Health Buck coupon is given to each customer for every $5 spent using food stamps. To find a farmers market in your neighborhood, see bottom of post.

Kids and Gardening

There are many success stories of children trying new fruits and vegetables if they are involved in growing the food themselves. As a matter of fact, First Lady Michelle Obama has planted a garden at the White House and has local schoolchildren harvest the vegetables to teach them the importance of gardening and eating healthy. Some children in NYC and the Bronx are involved in community gardens, oftentimes through the school curriculum. Every child should have this opportunity! Talk to others in your community and your child’s school to find out if there are any community gardens near you. Perhaps you could work with the school’s PTA, or your child’s principal and science teacher to see about involving students in vegetable gardening during the school day.

Supermarkets & Bodegas

In December 2009, the City Council approved bringing more supermarkets into low- and moderate-income areas of NYC, including sections of the Bronx, through the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) Initiative. The new FRESH supermarkets will offer a full line of grocery products, including fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, dairy and other food and nonfood products, and will also be a source of new local jobs.

Until these new supermarkets are built, you can still change the food choices available in your neighborhood. Your local grocery or bodega owner generally sells what he thinks his customers want to buy. If you do not like the foods in your local store, ask to speak to the owner and let him know what options you would like to buy. If he is able to stock the healthier food items to sell to you, he will most likely do so because he knows people want it. Some ideas of things to ask for are low-fat milk and yogurt, apple chips, pita chips, pretzels, whole wheat bread, regular peanut butter, jelly, plain nuts such as almonds and walnuts, and fruits and vegetables that are either fresh, frozen, or canned in light syrup (note: many stores do not have the capacity to sell foods that need to be frozen or refrigerated).

There’s no need to ask for water, because you can get this for FREE from the sink or water fountain! NYC water is generally of very good quality and you can save a lot of money by buying a reusable BPA-free bottle and filling it with water on your own.

Bronx Health REACH

Bronx Health REACH, a part of the Institute for Family Health, is an organization that works on trying to improve the quality of food served in the Bronx. REACH also works to educate the community about how to live a healthy lifestyle through the food and exercise choices we make. One of the focuses of REACH is working with churches in the community to empower its members to lead a healthy lifestyle. REACH has developed a “God’s Health Squad” toolkit for church leaders to use with youth groups. More information can be found on the website,, the blog,, or by contacting Kelly Moltzen (see bottom of post).

NYC Strategic Alliance for Health (SAfH)

The NYC Strategic Alliance for Health (SAfH) was founded in 2008 to combine the efforts of local organizations, Elected Officials, and other community based organizations in an effort to improve the environments, systems, and policies that affect physical activity, nutrition, and tobacco-use within schools and the broader community of the South Bronx and East & Central Harlem. The efforts that are found to work best will be shared with other NYC neighborhoods who are also working to decrease health inequities.

A brief overview SAfH’s Goals:

Physical Activity

· Require organizations that work in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) community centers to lead daily physical activity programs

· Improve the play street program in target areas by changing policy


· Include a new option in the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Adopt a Bodega initiative that will offer Bodega owners resources for renovations that will allow fruits and vegetables to be sold and maintained on site

School Wellness

· Establish a policy at the NYC Department of Education that will provide elementary schools with a Physical Activity and Nutrition Award

· Establish a policy requiring elementary after-school programs to include daily time for physical activity

For more information, contact: Geysil Arroyo, Community Coordinator

646-672-2385 or

What’s On Your Plate? Film

Want to watch a movie about healthy and not-so-healthy food in NYC, narrated from a kids’ perspective? The film “What’s On Your Plate?” is just that. It follows two curious girls who are on a mission to understand where their food comes from, and what’s in it. The girls interview many influential people in NYC, including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Chef Jorge Collazo from the NYC Department of Education’s Office of School Food, and Anna Lappé, author of the newly released book Diet for a Hot Planet, about the impact of our food system on climate change. You can find out more information about where and when “What’s On Your Plate?” is being screened in NYC at the website

“Let’s Move!”

First Lady Michelle Obama is very involved in supporting a healthy lifestyle for children. She has started the “Let’s Move” initiative to fight childhood obesity, which aims to give “parents the support they need, provide healthier food in schools, help our kids to be more physically active, and make healthy, affordable food available in every part of our country.” You can find out more here:

People’s Garden NYC Petition

There is currently a petition asking Mayor Bloomberg to plant a vegetable garden outside of City Hall as a symbol of the City’s dedication to healthy food. If this garden becomes reality, it would be managed by children and seniors from the nearby area, and the food grown would be donated to a local food pantry or soup kitchen. You can learn more about it and sign the petition here:

More Resources

NY Coalition for Healthy School Food

The New York Coalition for Healthy School Food is organization that works on improving food for all children in New York. Learn more here:

Super Kids Nutrition

Find information on healthy eating for your kids from the experts! There are articles, activities, book suggestions and more at

Dr. Dolgoff’s Weigh

Dr. Johanna Dolgoff is a pediatrician who focuses on weight management.She has many resources online that you can get for free at her website,

SNAP-Ed Recipe Finder Database Search for low-cost recipes by ingredient, recipe name, cost, and more:

Online Videos

Want to learn more about the food system by watching videos? Here are a few you can watch online:

· Urban Farming NYC

· The Meatrix

· The True Cost of Food

· The Story of Stuff

For more information, contact Kelly Moltzen, Nutrition/Diabetes Education Coordinator at Bronx Health REACH. She can be reached by email at or by phone at (212) 633-0800 x 1328. You can also follow her on twitter at or visit her blog:

Thanks for reading!

Farmers Markets in the Bronx

Greenmarket Farmers Markets: EBT/Food Stamps and WIC & Senior FMNP Coupons Accepted. For every 5 EBT dollars spent, customers receive a $2 Health Buck coupon to purchase additional produce.

Bronx Borough Hall Greenmarket

Grand Concourse at 161 St, Bronx, 10451

Tuesdays, June 29 through November 23, 8am - 3pm

Lincoln Hospital Greenmarket
149th Street at Park Ave, Bronx, 10451

Tuesdays and Fridays, June 29 through November 23, 8am - 3pm

New York Botanical Garden Greenmarket

Dr Theodore Kazimiroff Blvd at Bronx Park Rd, New York, 10458

Wednesdays, June 16 through November 29, 9am - 6pm.

Poe Park Greenmarket

Grand Concourse at E 192 St, Bronx, 10468

Open Tuesdays, July 6 through November 23, 8am -3pm

Harvest Home Farmers Markets:

Jacobi Market

Jacobi Hospital

1400 Pelham Parkway

Tuesday, 8 am – 4 pm

June 16 - November 24

Forrest Ave. Market

Forrest Avenue Betw. 156th & Westchester

Wednesday, 8 am – 4 pm

July 8 - November 18

North Central Bronx

Mosholu Pkwy North & Jerome Ave

Wednesday, 8 am - 6 pm

July 8 - November 18

Mt. Eden Ave. Market

(Lebanon Hospital)

Thursday, 8 am - 4 pm

May 21 - November 19

Castle Hill Avenue

At Castle Hill & Hart St

Saturday, 8 am – 4 pm

July 11 - November 21

Coop City Market

Coop City Blvd.,Greenway #3

Saturday, 8 am - 6pm

July 11 - November 21

Morris Park Market

1734 Williamsbridge Road

Our Saviour Lutheran Church Parking Lot

Saturdays, 8 am - 4 pm

July 11 - Nov 21

Echo Park Market

On Tremont Avenue

Betw. Anthony &

Webster Ave.

Wednesday, 8 am – 6 pm

July - Nov 2

Sunday Market

165th Grand Concourse

Bronx Museum

Sunday, 8am - 4pm

July 12 - Nov 22

For more information:

Greenmarket or call (212) 788-7476

Harvest Home Farmers Market or (212) 828-3361

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