Food Apartheid Affecting Bronxites: Who is Rising up to Fight
Along with environmental issues that impact Bronx families, an economic disadvantage must also be acknowledged. The West Farms and Crotona sections of The South Bronx are neighborhoods in which MMFYC resides. Currently, unemployment is at an all-time high of 36%. Nearly a third of its residents live in poverty. This community is predominantly made up of Hispanics 60% and Blacks 26%. Clearly, we see a systemic racial divide that leaves these individuals to struggle to make ends meet and survive such harmful environmental conditions. With the lack of access to job opportunities in The Bronx, how are residents supposed to provide for themselves or their families when they are involuntarily being pushed down? As a result of environmental and economic impacts, the quality of life for residents has been affected, causing an epidemic of obesity and malnutrition, diabetes, hypertension, and other nutrition-related diseases. These nutrition-related diseases can be avoided by incorporating healthier eating habits.
The lack of healthy food and the environmental and economic crisis may make The Bronx look bleak, but there is a silver lining. With the assistance of non-profit organizations like the Mary Mitchell Family & Youth Center, The Bronx can and is fighting against these issues with its programs, such as Heidi's Healthy Canasta. Through this program, Bronx residents can purchase bags filled with vegetables, grains, and proteins in the form of legumes. Participating residents can buy these bags on a sliding scale fee and receive enough healthy food to feed at least a family of four. This program was expanded during COVID-19 to be called Emergency Heidi's Healthy Canasta, providing canned goods and non-perishables to residents in need. These bags were delivered straight to residents' doors for contact-free delivery. During this time, the program served over 500 families weekly. Furthermore, in a continued effort to meet their "Zero Tolerance for Crappy Food mission," the center provides a fresh, hot meal to each student who participates in their after-school program. Each meal includes vegetables, grains, and protein for a well-balanced diet. Through these programs, MMFYC fights against food insecurity and strengthens The South Bronx food system by filling in the existing food gaps. Their focus on providing a healthy lifestyle to the community will be a catalyst for change for future generations.