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NEW YORK (July 27, 2015) — Make the Road New York (MRNY) has released a short video to raise awareness about the difficulty of accessing healthy foods in low-income communities throughout NYC (WATCH VIDEO IN ENGLISH OR SPANISH).
The video highlights communities with high rates of diet-related disease, specifically in Brooklyn and Queens, and families’ limited access to affordable, fresh, nutrient rich food.
MRNY has increased awareness of food deserts throughout Long Island, Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn, promoting the need for healthy food access in all communities as well as continued state investment in the New York State Healthy Food and Healthy Communities Fund. The Fund, which was created in 2009, has funded nineteen healthy, affordable food retail projects in low-income communities around New York, including New York City projects in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Far Rockaway and the South Bronx.
In Bushwick, MRNY members built the Grove Street Farm, a community garden that brings together youth and adult members to plant, harvest and eat the food produced, while sharing farming practices from their home countries. “Members have access to the healthy foods they choose to grow, youth learn to be urban farmers, and all those who pass by witness an example of a community working together to make Bushwick a healthier place to live,” states Becca Telzak, Director of Health Programs at Make the Road New York.
Frustration with lack of access to healthy, affordable food can be found in too many communities around New York City.
“I feel good where I live [in East New York], but there are no markets close by where I can buy the fruits and vegetables,” says Frede Vasquez, cook and member at Make the Road New York in Bushwick, “I’m a breast cancer survivor, and I need healthy food to be alive and healthy. Close to Bushwick and East New York, there’s processed food more than anything else, which isn’t good for your health. I am a cook. I love to cook. I love food.”
“I live in Bushwick,” says Yassenia Cruz, Make The Road New York member, “and I have SNAP benefits, but with four small children in school, it can be very difficult to find fresh vegetables or reasonably-priced whole wheat bread. Although we have to travel far to look for fruit stores that have special products, I continue to teach my children that it’s important to eat healthy, however difficult it can be for us to access the foods.”
“Why have we made it so hard for families to get healthy food? Healthy food financing can help. With a small state investment, New York can help bring supermarkets and mobile markets to communities that lack access to healthy food,” said LeWanza Harris, MD, MPH, Member, American Heart Association New York City Board of Directors. “People who eat more fruits and vegetables can decrease the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease often brought on by obesity. Residents in neighborhoods with at least one supermarket eat up to 32% more fruit and vegetables. I encourage the Empire State Development Corporation to make this a priority.”
To learn how you can help bring healthy food to kids and families in New York, go tohealthyfood4ny.org