Tag Archive | "Bronx"

VIDEO – Bronx Small Businesses Missing Out on Savings

A recent study shows that less than 1% of NYC small businesses are taking advantage of offered city and state energy conservation programs. Small businesses are missing out on saving thousands of dollars on their energy bills.

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Like a Supermarket, but the Food Here Is Free

Video by Shreeya Sinha


The line outside the food pantry at Highbridge Community Church forms three times every week, even in the biting cold.

The pantry, located at 1272 Ogden Ave., is open for just two hours a day, three times a week. Bundled in overcoats, most visitors take food home in shopping carts, though one woman on Wednesday loaded food into a rolling suitcase with a green and pink floral print.

The line is a familiar scene for Denise Richards, an administrator at the food pantry, who said that the number of people visiting the food pantry doubled in the past six months.

“I know a lot more people are unemployed; I’ve seen a lot more younger people coming in, people in their 20s, people my age, since a year ago until now,” said Richards, who is 26.

The scene outside the Highbridge food pantry reflects a stark reality. In some Bronx neighborhoods, more than one-third of the people report having difficulty getting enough to eat. New data also ranks the Bronx as the unhealthiest county in the state.

According to the results of a survey published last month by the Food Resource Action Center, 36.9 percent of respondents in Congressional District 16, which includes Morrisania, Highbridge and Mott Haven, reported difficulty in finding food over the past year. This translates to the nation’s highest hunger rate.

“By definition, hunger is that feeling or uneasiness and questioning about where your next meal is going to come from,” said Kate MacKenzie, director of policy and government relations for City Harvest, an organization that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to food banks.

The second study published on Wednesday by the University of Wisconsin School of Public Health found that the borough was the least healthiest county in the state. The Bronx has the second-highest mortality rate and the least availability of clinical care.

MacKenzie sees the two reports together painting a bleak picture for some Bronx residents.

“Poverty, hunger and health are interrelated,” she said.

City Harvest saw demand for emergency food increase by 17 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2009,  MacKenzie said. She also said that more than half of the affiliated food agencies in the Bronx have seen an increase in the number of visits by children over the same time period. The Food Resource Action Center study concluded that families with children were 1.6 times more likely to experience difficulty in finding food than those without children.

On Friday, New York State Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. announced a $200,000 grant for the Davidson Community Center. The money will defray the costs of running social programs, including a food pantry. Other pantries, like the one in Highbridge, still struggle for money.

Richards said that increased demand has stretched the food pantry’s resources to the point where it was forced to cut back hours and ration the amounts of food it distributed.

“Recently, we’ve had to shut down. We’ve had to close certain days due to lack of food,” Richards said. “We’ve had to adjust the number of food items someone can get.”

Bronx residents who face shortages at their primary food pantries can often make up the gap by moving around the area.

“The food does run out sometimes,” said Kenia Abreu, who is 39 years old and lives on Ogden Avenue. “That’s when I get prepared and look at the calendar and see what I can get from other pantries, because this is not the only pantry I come to. I go to other areas, as well.”

Abreu worked as a teacher’s aide until October 2009, when she was laid off. She relies on food pantries to help support her three children, aged 8, 6 and 4.

“It’s important for me, not only because I’m going for the economic situation, but also because the things they give here is healthy,” Abreu said. “We have the bread, which is something that we need for the kids. We have the cereal, the juices, the milk.”

William Clark, who lives on Summit Avenue, arrived at Highbridge Church at 3:50 p.m. on Wednesday, 10 minutes before the pantry opened. He was bundled in a blue coat, his hood pulled over his head and tightly around his face, to protect from a sharp wind. Clark lives with his son and daughter, and he was picking up enough food from the community center to last his family about one week. He didn’t make it inside until well after 5 p.m.

Posted in Bronx Beats, Bronx Neighborhoods, Southern BronxComments (3)

Center Receives $200,000 to Fight Obesity and Hunger

When she received the call yesterday afternoon, Aida Martinez couldn’t believe her own ears. State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. was calling the Davidson Community Center chairwoman in person, to announce that a $200,000 grant would be delivered this week to improve nutrition conditions in the Bronx. Excellent news for a borough that was recently ranked as the least healthy county in the state.

Espada speech

Senator Pedro Espada Jr., made a speech on the necessity to change nutrition habits in the borough. (Photo by: Yasmine Guerda)

“We pay now with money, or we pay later with diabetes, obesity, cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases,” the senator said in front of a crowd of 50 people from the neighborhood.

As the founder of the Soundview Health Network, Senator Espada says he has been aware of the health problems in the Bronx for several years. “We know the challenge,” he said. “The Bronx is the obesity capital of America, the asthma capital of America, and many other titles that we don’t want anymore.”

The Davidson Community Center had been applying for a grant for five years. “We haven’t worked out all the specifics yet, but what we know so far is that we are going to use the money to buy a van so we can distribute food in various places, like senior residences, health centers and schools,” said Angel Caballero, executive director of the community center.

The money will be used to distribute free fruits and vegetables to residents in need but, more importantly, to organize healthy nutrition workshops. “We want to show people that they can keep eating what they eat but that with slightly different methods of cooking, it can be better for their health,” Martinez said. The workshops will be organized weekly, in Spanish and in English, and will include ethnic recipes, “so nobody is excluded,” she said.

Feat_Espada

The money will be used by the community center to distribute free food and to teach Bronx residents how to eat healthily. (Photo by: Yasmine Guerda)

According to a survey released at the beginning of this month, the 16th Congressional District in the Bronx , encompassing several South Bronx neighborhoods, has the highest hunger rate of the United State.  In the survey, 36 percent of the residents  said they did not have enough money to buy food in the last year.

“The situation has been getting worse and worse lately,” Martinez said. She explained that the group used to be able to put together three food distributions per week; but last year, because of the recession, it barely made it once a week. “Last week, we received two bags of potatoes, two bags of onions and a box of apples. What can we do with that?” she said. This scarcity  made residents lose faith in the community center, she said.

While in previous years the center was able to serve more than 300 families a week, fewer than 50 families a week received free food in the last couple of months. “And it’s really hard, you know, to have people come ask for food and not be able to give them any,” Martinez said.

She claimed that the $200,000 could potentially benefit close to 10,000 people in one year, depending on their needs. “We are confident that this initiative is also going to encourage business owners  to give us more food as well and participate in this effort to create a healthier Bronx,” said Angel Caballero, of the community center. “It’s about creating a positive dynamic in the neighborhood, and this money is going to help us do that. We gotta stick together!”

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, FoodComments (2)

In Bronx Blaze, Disaster Averted by Seconds

Jacob Sowell, a Pelham Parkway Houses resident, used this safety harness to aid neighbors, who were leaning out of their windows during an apartment fire.

Jacob Sowell, a resident of Pelham Parkway Houses, used this safety harness to aid neighbors, who were leaning out of their windows during an apartment fire. Photo by Sam Fellman.

Jacob Sowell’s nap was rudely interrupted on Monday afternoon by the scene outside his sixth-floor apartment window. He was shocked by what he saw — smoke and a baby dangling out of the window.

“It was almost like a dream – a bad dream,” the 66-year-old Sowell said.

What he saw was Vanessa Scott, 18, holding her 7-month-old cousin, Zaniwah Alexander, out of the window of her fifth-floor apartment that was engulfed in smoke. She was trying to keep the baby from suffocating, she later told the Daily News.

Sowell heard Scott scream, “the fire’s up on me.” Meanwhile, voices from the crowd below cried, “don’t drop the baby!”

From Sowell’s window, he could see that she was loosing her grip.

Just after 2 p.m. at 795 Pelham Parkway North, a fire broke out in a fifth-floor apartment. Ignited in a closet by the front door, the flames soon spread through the crowded apartment, sealing people in a thick curtain of flame and smoke. Tenants raced to the windows for air.

In the apartment directly above, Sowell called 911 and then, with his 20-year-old son Jacob, rushed to the window in his son’s bedroom. Below them, a man and a woman were leaning out the window, gasping for air. “How can I help?” Sowell wondered.

Sowell, a construction worker, seized his safety harness and then broke the bedroom window. He clipped the harness to a pipe nearby and handed the makeshift tether to the man below, who grabbed it and was able to lean farther out.

Within minutes, fire trucks arrived. The firefighters extended a portable ladder and set it against the seven-story building. One climbed up and carried the baby down to safety, then began to evacuate the other people.

The rescue did not come in time for Michel Alexandra to avoid injury. He had been hanging from a rope out of the apartment when the firefighters arrived. Then he lost his grip, falling four stories and striking the building’s awning before hitting the ground. He was evacuated to Jacobi Medical Center, where he is in fair condition, hospital officials said.

Firefighters rescued eight tenants, who were also brought to Jacobi with minor injuries. They have since been released. In addition, three firefighters were treated for minor injuries.

A day later, many residents of Pelham Parkway Houses were still shaken up.

Betty Diaz, 51, whose apartment is on the same floor as the fire, fled the building when she heard the screaming of her neighbors. By the time she snatched Kiuruba, her Yorkshire terrier, and left her apartment, the choking, black smoke filled the hallway.

“I can’t see, I can’t even breathe,” Diaz recalled.

Diaz, who has lived in the building for 36 years, said this was the first fire.

The cause of the fire was children playing with matches, Fire Department officials said.

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AUDIO SLIDESHOW – After 64 Years, I Love You Still

The year was 1946. Herbert Nelson returned home from serving in the U.S. Army and his friends held a welcome party. That’s where he met Rose. A friend suggested he should call her and he did. The call was followed by a box of toffee and, shortly after, a wedding ring to tie the knot at Beth Shraga Synagogue.

The Nelsons, both born and raised in the Bronx, have two sons and they now live in the Jewish Home in the Bronx.

Audio Slideshow produced by Rania Zabaneh.

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VIDEO – Romantic Bronx

For Valentine’s Day, couples in the Bronx have their own special ways to celebrate.

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VIDEO – East Bronx Straphangers Struggle with Station Closures

Two stations that service the number six train line in the East Bronx closed Monday for renovations causing significant delays for commuters, who now must use the BX 4 bus to finish their trip. The stations are scheduled to be closed until September 2010.

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VIDEO – A Mosque’s Call to Prayer

A mosque in the Bronx will once again seek a sound permit to amplify the Muslim call to prayer. Parkchester Jame Masjid on Virginia Ave first sought the permit back in October at Community Board 9 causing an up roar amongst residents. The mosque rescinded its request in November and is now preparing to seek it again.

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