A Food Desert in the Middle of New York City: Fordham and University Heights
Christina Passarella, Leticia Sanchez, Lisa Hitch, Taylor Drost, Timeka Toussaint
New York City is often seen as one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. However, the city also displays huge social injustices and inequalities, in particular when it comes to health.
Diet, as one important factor for a healthy weight, couldn’t be more diverse in the city. On the one hand side, you can find the most exotic and most expensive foods from all over the world: golden bagels, $1,000 pizza, and a martini worth $10,000 (Ripley, 2016). But not every resident can benefit from the vast diversity and richness of the food offers in the city.
Fordham and University Heights, located in the West Bronx, just north of Manhattan, is often labeled as a food desert, defined as an area with enormous barriers to access to food, particularly healthy foods. Fordham and University Heights have no farmer’s markets and a supermarket to bodega ratio of 1:20, further exacerbating the barrier to healthy foods (Hinterland et al., 2018).
Because of these environmental barriers, this community is severely impacted and shows heightened rates of obesity (34%), childhood obesity (24%), diabetes (16%), and hypertension (37%), all medical conditions associated with an unhealthy diet (Hinterland et al., 2018). One third of residents would classify their own health as less than “good.” Therefore, the community of Fordham and University Heights needs special attention and resources to address the problem of food deserts and the associated obesity epidemic. This can only be done in a joint effort with community members, community-based organizations, and outside sources such as external funding.
One way to support Fordham and University Heights is by supporting the Institute for Family Health in applying for a $50,000 grant from Triscuit as part of their “The Missing Ingredient Project” campaign to pursue solutions for affordable, healthy foods and in the fight against food deserts (Triscuit, 2020).
So, this is a call-to-action for anyone, any organization, or funding partners, to support the Institute for Family health in creating sustainable solutions to transform Fordham and University Heights and combat the food desert environment.