Summer is almost over, but that doesn't mean it's too late to kickstart a healthy lifestyle. The outdoors are even more inviting, and the farmers markets are in full swing, especially the Marcy Plaza Farmers Market, made possible through the work of the Partnership for a Healthier Brooklyn and the NYC Food and Fitness Partnership.
These two groups are part of Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation's Health Team, who work to improve the health of the community through their grassroots activism.
This work involves much collaboration whether it's with stores, other health organizations, or with the general public. The Partnership's history of work with markets and bodegas may be its most prominent collaboration. When working with these stores, the Partnership aims to make them more health conscience by getting them to change their displays so healthy food is more eye-catching.
They also work with stores to make healthy food more affordable. In the Partnership's work with Foodtown, they've put them in contact with local farmers and vendors, resulting in more fresh produce at a lower price. This is all part of the Partnership's mission "to make the healthy choice the easy choice," said Verna D. Ademu-John, the Health Initiatives Program Coordinator.
Promoting active living also falls within the Partnership's scope. Over its years of service, it has joined with exercise providers who offer free or low-cost exercise classes such as ShapeUp NYC. It has also been forming partnerships with organizations that are willing to let the public use their spaces for fitness classes.
Some faith-based organizations have said, Yes! We have a space and we can hold a class. These places are actually all over the borough, but not many people are aware of it. So the partnership is working hard to raise people's awareness about the healthy resources that are around them-- particularly, spaces for physical activity are there and open for public use.
And as for healthy food resources, Healthbucks and food buying clubs are available and ready for people to take advantage. The Partnership also wants the public to be aware that they have a voice. When the public speaks, whether it is during the Foodtown tours, at the farmers market, or during a formal forum, the Partnership listens.
"The idea is that we can filter what we glean from conversations on the ground back to impacting "policy" the environment or system that allows for more tangible changes to happen," says Afia Bediako, a FoodTown spokesperson. She adds, "What we can offer is a representative of our people here by a singular voice saying, 'This is what I know matters to our community'".
Community members will have plenty of opportunities to let the Partnership know what matters to them. The Partnership will be working with the Marcy Plaza Farmers Market until the end of October. There will also be free weekly outdoor exercise classes running until the end of September.
In addition, participants can look forward to monthly Shop Fresh! Live Well! Be Fit! supermarket tours at Foodtown,which includes a day of tours, food demonstrations and sampling, fitness on the Plaza, giveaways and outdoor movie screenings (weather permitting).
Other initiatives which the Partnership have undertaken include, Tobacco-Free Living as it relates to smoke-free housing, where building owners are engaged in discussion about the adoption of smoke-free policy for their buildings, and alcohol, as it relates to excessive and underage drinking.
All of these activities also have culminated with a collaboration by the Partnership on a recently released report, Uncovering Alcohol's Hidden Harms: A Collection of Stories from Everyday New Yorkers, to bring attention to these harms.