Campaign to Promote Healthy Foods in Bodegas

Lidia Gomez prepares soup at her Los Hermanos bodega on Jackson Avenue. (Photo by Paula Moura via Mott Haven Herald)

Two years ago, Los Hermanos minimart in Mott Haven started offering produce and other healthy foods as part of the Healthy Bodegas Initiative. The program, started in 2006 by the New York City Health Department, aims to increase the availability of nutritious foods in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty and chronic disease. It provides stores like Los Hermanos with refrigerators for produce and salads, as well as shelves and bottled water, writes Paula Moura in Mott Haven Herald, who visited the bodega to see the effects of the initiative.

Now a marketing campaign is in the works.

The three nonprofit organizations that first collaborated with the city’s health department to create the program two years ago – Bronx Health Reach, BronxWorks and Montefiore Health System — are now working with several other organizations on a new marketing campaign aimed at promoting the healthy foods the bodegas are selling. The Bronx Bodega Partners Workgroup, as the new coalition calls itself, recently launched “Don’t stress, eat fresh,” with the objective of encouraging Bronxites to eat salads, yogurt and other nutritious food, with ads that say, for example “Live Longer, Be Stronger”, and social media ads, shirts, caps, and events.

The coalition’s goal all along has been to fight two familiar scourges in the neighborhood, obesity and diabetes. According to health department data from 2015, Mott Haven and Melrose had more obese residents than any other neighborhood in the city, with 33 percent, compared with 24% citywide. The local diabetes rate was 15% that year, compared with the citywide average of 10%, according to the DOH.

How have Los Hermanos’ customers responded to the increased offerings of fruits and vegetables? Has the produce helped to boost sales? And is it true that the Bronx has more food available per capita than Manhattan? Find out at Mott Haven Herald.

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