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Farm Stand Makes Morris Heights a Health Destination

Farm Stand Makes Morris Heights a Health Destination

HEALTH - Every Wednesday from 10 am - 2 pm, on the corner of Burnside Ave and University Ave, you will find the Morris Heights Farmstand, a community-based joint initiative between MHHC and GrowNYC. The farmstand provides fresh, locally grown produce and accepts WIC, Cash, SNAP/EBT, Debit/Credit, Healthfirst OTC Plus and Humana Healthy Options insurance members (select plans), WIC & Senior FMNP coupons, and Greenmarket Bucks. 

GrowNYC is a non-profit organization that has been around for over 50 years. Part of its mission is to improve the city’s quality of life through its programs and initiatives. One of the organization’s programs is greenmarkets, which brings fresh, locally grown produce to neighborhoods throughout the city. 

MHHC has been around for over 40 years. It is known as the “healthy destination” of the Bronx, a staple for health and wellness in the community. Not only does MHHC provide high-quality healthcare services and access to medical coverage for all, but also makes sure that the members of the community have the tools necessary to live healthy lives. Every year, MHHC’S 200+ events bring health and wellness related resources to patients and members of the community. These resources include educational workshops on topics such as nutrition, CPR, and maternal care, informational material on various MHHC programs, such as school-based health and WIC, and item giveaways such as nutritious food and produce, diapers and baby formula, household sanitizing products, school supplies, books, and toys. 

Located steps away from MHHC’s 85 W Burnside Ave location, the farmstand offers a variety of fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and more, sourced from local farms in the Hudson Valley region. The produce is sold at affordable prices, making it accessible to everyone. 

Although the spring season has officially begun, during the months of April and May, the farmstand will still have a lot of winter veggies available.

The majority of GrowNYC’s farmers are based in upstate NY and though the weather does not permit outdoor growing for certain crops, root vegetables that the farmers have harvested in the fall and kept in cold storage, will be available. The farmstand also features farmers who grow leafy green veggies in a greenhouse during the winter, which provides more accessibility to leafy greens for the community during the off season. Some of the other produce available in early spring are apples, potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, onions, radishes, cabbage, parsnips, celery root, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. 

In addition to providing fresh produce, the Morris Heights Farmstand also offers nutrition education and cooking demonstrations to help residents learn how to prepare healthy meals using the produce they purchase. The initiative aims to promote healthy eating habits and improve access to nutritious food in a community that faces significant challenges with food insecurity. 

Food insecurity refers to a lack of consistent access to nutritious and affordable food, which can lead to health issues and other negative outcomes. According to a report by one of MHHC’s partners, the Food Bank for New York City, in 2019, 28% of households in the Bronx experienced food insecurity, compared to 11% citywide. In addition, many residents live in "food deserts," areas where there are few grocery stores or other sources of fresh, healthy food.

The Morris Heights Farmstand, supported by MHHC, is one example of a community-led effort to address food insecurity and promote health and wellness in the Bronx. It demonstrates the importance of collaboration between organizations and community members in creating sustainable solutions to complex social and environmental challenges.

Like GrowNYC, the Food Bank for New York City supports a healthier Bronx through its partnership with MHHC. The Food Bank for New York City operates several programs in the area, including community kitchens that provide free meals, and food pantries that distribute groceries to those in need. 

This spring, MHHC will be introducing “Wellness Wednesdays”, which will take place one Wednesday of the month at the farm stand. “Wellness Wednesdays” will raise awareness and inform the community about different health observance days during the month. The goal is to inspire the members of the community to build healthy habits for themselves and their families. Diseases and conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension are prevalent in the Bronx—but they are preventable. MHHC offers exercise classes for all ages, nutrition demonstrations, and educational workshops to make health and wellness a more accessible and achievable option.

Also located in the Bronx is the Hunts Point Produce Market, another partner of MHHC, which is known for its role as a wholesale supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables to supermarkets, restaurants, and other businesses. In recent years, the market and its vendors have played an important role in addressing food insecurity in the region. Through its partnerships and collaborations with local organizations, such as MHHC, Hunts Point Produce Market prioritizes social responsibility through providing fresh, healthy options to underserved communities. 

Partnerships and collaborations with organizations that share the same goals as MHHC further support the mission to provide the opportunity for health and wellness in the community. The support and resources that MHHC’s partners provide helps the entire community thrive and creates hope for a healthier Bronx.

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