Promoting a healthier Bronx is a key component of YMPJ’s work. The Bronx’s capacity to provide healthy food for all of its residents is poor. Community District 9, YMPJ’s primary constituency, has 181 ft2 of supermarket per 100 population, compared to 450 ft2 in the city’s best-performing neighborhoods (South Beach and Willowbrook in Staten Island). Finding healthy food in the form of fresh fruits, vegetables, and prepared food is difficult. Large portions of the community subsist on unhealthy processed foods high in refined sugar, white flour, and fat. These high-fat and -sugar diets increase the likelihood of developing chronic illnesses, including diabetes and obesity. The diabetes prevalence rate in Soundview is 15%, five times the rate in the best-performing New York neighborhoods (3% in Stuyvesant Town and Turtle Bay) and roughly 1.5 times the national rate of 9.4%. The obesity rate in CD9 is 29%, compared to 8% in the best-performing New York neighborhoods (Stuyvesant Town and Turtle Bay in Lower Manhattan).
Through food workshops and cooking demonstrations showcasing healthy, fresh, and delicious meals, YMPJ works to empower Bronx residents to make healthier food decisions and positively influence their overall health and wellbeing. Its involvement in this area of service prompted the Bronx Borough President, Ruben Diaz, Jr., to request that YMPJ create the #Not62 Youth Committee, which is currently in its formative stage.
Youth Culinary Program
YMPJ performs health and nutrition outreach in the form of its Teen Battle Chef youth culinary program. Teen Battle Chef is a culinary skills program targeting young people aged fourteen to eighteen (14-18) that encourages increased awareness of local food justice issues. While simultaneously training for youth leadership, participants learn about local food systems and their impact on the Soundview neighborhood, how to navigate food deserts, and how to pursue healthy alternative eating options. Participants learn basic culinary skills and are instructed on how to prepare healthy, satisfying, and culturally relevant food. The competitive “Battle Chef” component encourages creativity, teamwork, an attention to detail, and the development of listening skills.
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