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USDA Grant to Benefit Mt. Hope Community Food Project

New York City, NY (October 19, 2006) – A quarter million dollar grant to promote healthy eating and assure access to affordable, farm-fresh fruits and vegetables for residents of the Mt. Hope community in the Bronx has been awarded by the USDA. City Harvest, the Montefiore School Health Program and Just Food have formed a partnership to pilot the Mt Hope Community Food Project, funded by a three-year, $288,793, Community Food Project (CFP) grant from the USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

“The synergistic partnership we have with Montefiore School Health Program and Just Food seeks to ultimately provide the Mount Hope community with permanent sources of affordable, fresh and nutritious food and the educational means to use them effectively. We look forward to developing a model for low-income neighborhoods across the city, which can also inform other efforts across the country,” said Jilly Stephens, Executive Director of City Harvest, which in addition to teaching weekly nutrition education classes is supplementing the Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA) with fruit on a regular basis.

“We are pleased to have this opportunity to continue the development of the Montefiore School Health Program’s Healthy Kids School Based Obesity Prevention Program by incorporating healthy food and nutrition education into the daily lives of our children. Our program offers comprehensive medical, dental, mental and community health services to over 20,000 school aged children in the Bronx. We are excited to join forces with partners who have so much expertise in nutrition and healthy eating and to be able to expand our services to further support our community,” noted David Appel, MD, Director of the Montefiore Medical Center School Health Program.

Just Food Executive Director Jacquie Berger expressed her excitement about the upcoming initiative, “This program provides a wonderful introduction to CSA, an unconventional, but really affordable way to get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Just Food is always seeking new partnerships and projects that can help provide all New York neighborhoods with access to healthy, locally grown produce.”

The Mount Hope Community Food Project partners will provide expertise to pilot a project with a group of residents from the community with a multi-level set of goals. It connects inner-city residents with CSA programs to increase access to healthy produce to help influence changes in eating habits. It also provides nutrition education classes to help them combat nutrition-related diseases and conditions such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Finally, the project helps community residents to access healthy food and better selections in grocery stores, bodegas and other food venues.

The project’s activities are based at P.S. 28, with outreach to residents in  the Mount Hope area, a disadvantaged neighborhood in the Southwest section of the Bronx, with a per capita income of $10,113 as compared to $21,587 for the overall United States. A NYC survey of elementary school children found 43 percent to be overweight and 24 percent to be obese. At PS 28, an assessment of heights and weights among students in June 2005 revealed that close to 44 percent of students are at risk for being overweight or are already overweight.

Additionally, the project will conduct a Community Food Assessment of the neighborhood over the next year, working with community residents to gauge current food needs in the area, target areas for improvement, and build interest in and demand for fresh, affordable, healthy food in the neighborhood.  The pilot seeks to increase access to nutritious foods, such as farm-fresh produce, through sustainable, replicable models that work for inner-city residents of low-income and varied backgrounds.


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City Harvest, the world’s first and New York City ’s only food rescue organization, is dedicated to feeding the city’s hungry men, women and children. This year, City Harvest will collect 20 million pounds of excess food and deliver it, free of charge, to more than 600 community food programs throughout the five boroughs, helping to feed more than 260,000 people each week. City Harvest distributes rescued food to 83 community food programs in the Bronx and also operates a Mobile Market at the Melrose Community Houses, where a strong nutrition education program helps low-income New Yorkers achieve greater food security, improve their nutrition and live healthier, more self-sufficient lives.

Montefiore Medical Center’s School Health Program (MSHP) is the largest school-based health program in the nation, providing comprehensive dental, medical, mental and community health services to more than 20,000 students and their families in 13 schools throughout the Bronx. MSHP has been working with the Mount Hope community since 1994 with the opening of the health center at P.S. 28. In 2004, MSHP launched an obesity prevention initiative, Healthy Kids, in four elementary schools, introducing a range of activities and policy initiatives to improve fitness and nutrition opportunities. The program was instrumental in eliminating whole milk from the Region 1 school district, and has been working with Bronx Reach, a CDC-funded initiative, to enlist local bodegas to make low-fat milk and healthy foods more available and visible on their shelves.

Just Food has established seven CSAs in the Bronx and has been working to develop low-income approaches to CSAs that enable larger numbers of New Yorkers to participate by modifying the approach and helping consumers use their public benefits and other resources to participate.