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Thursday, May 13, 2010

The First Bronx Food Summit

How much sugar are you drinking? A display at the Bronx Food Summit shows the surprisingly high sugar content of many popular drinks. (Photo by Alex Green)

Saturday, May 1st marked the first ever Bronx Food Summit, a day of workshops and discussions organized by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., and a number of organizations and volunteers, that aimed to put food and nutrition at the top of the borough's agenda.

"We have poor eating habits, and we need to have better food options," Diaz said to the crowd of attendees at Hostos Community College.

He then rattled off a number of disturbing Bronx health statistics: the borough's been named the unhealthiest place to live in New York; one in every four children is obese, yet the South Bronx still has a hunger rate--37 percent--that's twice the national average.

"I don't know about you," Diaz said. "But I'm tired of being number one at everything that's bad and last place at everything that's good."

Enter the Bronx Food Summit. Panel discussions throughout the day touched upon topics like food justice, urban gardens, food co-ops, green job development, hunger and health related illness. In the afternoon, participants attended hands-on workshops where they learned how to make organic baby food, start their own compost piles and gardens, and techniques for cooking fresh fruits and vegetables.

The goal, Diaz said, was not only to spark a discussion about healthy eating, but for Bronxites to take what they've learned and incorporate it into their home life

"You can have accessible, healthy, nutritious foods--but if you don't know how to prepare them for yourselves and for your families, then our attempts will be fruitless," he said. "No pun intended."


  1. I really enjoyed the Bronx Food Summit and learned a lot; it was empowering and fueled many intelligent discussions about the Bronx's access to fresh, healthy food. I am disappointed it took the Bronx News Network two weeks to get an article up about it and that the article only highlights a small portion of the discussion that took place at the Summit. I am also disappointed that the Norwood CSA was not a visible participant at the Summit. I really think the Summit would have benefited from a Norwood CSA presence. It would have balanced and added to the many great discussions the South Bronx Food Coop led.

  2. We actually did have a member there that was an audience member who spoke during the CSA workshop. There were also flyers for the Norwood CSA at an information table. And Just Food, which organizes several CSAs throughout the Bronx was one of the driving forces behind the conference.

    But your point is well taken- local groups providing fresh food solutions could have been more centrally involved in the event. Part of the problem is that we didn't reach out to the Beep's office directly and part of the problem is that we weren't asked to play a bigger role. It was a challenge to only receive details on the workshops a day before the summit. Lessons to apply for future gatherings, of which I hope there will be.

  3. I would have liked to go but, as Nick wrote, we only found out about it last minute, and only as potential attendees. Most of our leadership already had plans for that weekend. And, as we are 100% volunteer run, we don't have staff to send, prepare, or do anything for that matter.

    We also don't belong in the same category as the South Bronx Food Co-op (despite our similar names) since they are a co-op in the store sense, and we are a CSA that is run cooperatively.

    Meanwhile, we will continue to provide neighborhood folks access to local organic produce and dairy. If anyone is interested in joining, the deadline is fast approaching. Visit www.norwoodfoodcoop.org for a registration form and more information.


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