Health Department's Center for Health Equity Rallies 150 Bronx Faith- Based Leaders around Community Health Goals

At the 2nd Annual Bronx Food, Fitness & Faith Summit, 150 faith-based leaders committed to setting health goals and implementing health initiatives with their congregations

October 24, 2016 – The Health Department’s Center for Health Equity, in partnership with the Bronx Multi-Faith Advisory Group, today convened 150 faith leaders for the Bronx’s annual multi-faith “Food, Fitness, and Faith” summit. Over 150 faith leaders representing 60 Bronx faith-based organizations attended the summit at the Bronx Museum of the Arts to address community health issues. The summit rallied faith-based organizations around setting health goals and implementing health initiatives with their congregations. The summit outlined key initiatives for leaders to develop with the Health Department to increase opportunities for physical activity, incorporating healthier food options in their diets and making healthier lifestyle choices for overall wellness at their houses of worship.

“Bronx faith leaders are trusted messengers who can deliver critical health information to their congregations to effect change for stronger, healthier neighborhoods,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Increasing access to resources and information that make it easier for people to lead healthier lives is fundamental to the work of the Health Department. Working together with our partners in the faith community, we are engaging people at their houses of worship to implement sustainable lifestyle changes.”

The Health Department will develop a common agenda with Bronx community and faith leaders to meet the needs of participating organizations. The Health Department will provide incentives, information, and tools to assist faith leaders in creating short and long-term goals to help them take active steps to promote health and wellness locally. In its second year, the summit asked faith leaders to make five commitments:

  • Adopt healthier food standards for kitchens and events
  • Participate in diabetes prevention classes
  • Support neighborhood supermarkets, bodegas and stores that meet Shop Healthy NYC criteria
  • Adopt sugar free beverage policy for events
  • Sign up to host a Naloxone training

At the end of the summit, each organization will be asked to complete a Commit to Actionform to adopt one or more activities that promote physical activity or healthy eating. The information gathered from the form will be used to develop a follow-up plan with each organization to provide technical assistance and track their progress in achieving their commitment. Technical assistance includes trainings or educational materials and tools (i.e. pedometers for walking groups) and connecting faith-based organizations to resources. The Health Department will be responsible for coordinating each of the available programs (blood pressure monitoring, walking groups, water promotion, and Health Bucks) and collecting necessary data from each organization. 

 “Neighborhood health depends on, among other things, a strong sense of community. Our faith-based organizations are among the strongest assets we have to connect with one another and live our healthiest lives. As such, it is important that we work together to address the health inequities that exist in our city, and recognize our efforts and successes,” said Dr. Aletha Maybank, Deputy Commissioner and Director of the Center for Health Equity.

“Today's 2nd annual Bronx Food, Fitness & Faith Summit will serve as a great opportunity to address our community's health disparities on a very local level. Coupling faith and wellness is a wonderfully holistic approach to dealing with our neighborhood health issue. Many thanks to the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity for continuing to work with our communities in promoting healthy living," said New York  Senator Jose M. Serrano

"With health issues one of the largest concerns for Bronx residents, I salute the city and the borough's faith-based organizations for coming together on this critical issue, and hopefully taking much needed steps to a healthier future," said New York State Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda.

"It's so great to see all of us working together, across faiths and creeds, to try and make the Bronx healthier," said Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, Jr. "Our faith community in the Bronx is strong and I know will contribute greatly in making the Bronx #Not62."

“We have the unfortunate distinction of being the least healthy county in New York State for six years straight.  Rather than acquiescing to this finding, it has served as a rallying point for us to help mount a borough-wide campaign to unite the twelve districts of the Bronx against health disparities,” said Dr. Bruce Rivera, Executive Pastor, Christ Church UCC and Chair of the Bronx Multi-Faith Advisory Group. “Central to our initiative, is the formation of a multi-faith advisory board that seeks to build alliances between the faith communities and the borough’s health care providers.  This partnership has helped bridge the gap by providing access to resources and information like our annual “Food, Fitness & Faith Summit,” that builds trust and dispels many health myths.”

About the Bronx Multi-Faith Advisory Group

Convened by the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, the Bronx Multi-Faith Advisory Group brings together faith leaders around the Bronx to collaborate with the Health Department in the planning and development of public health programs and policies in the borough. Its mission is to serve as an advocate in reducing health disparities and to promote wellness through education, outreach, and broadening health care access in partnership with faith-based organizations.

About the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity

Founded in 2014, the Health Department’s Center for Health Equity amplifies the agency’s work to eliminate health disparities and improve health outcomes in neighborhoods with disproportionately high rates of chronic disease and premature death. The division takes a number of approaches to invest in key neighborhoods, eliminate the social barriers to good health and advance health equity throughout New York City. The Neighborhood Health Action Centers, opening soon, will better link residents with local primary care and community services. The Action Centers will also provide space for community-based organizations and Health Department staff to work together to advance neighborhood health. For more information, visit the Center for Health Equity page.

Follow the Center for Health Equity on social media using the #NYCHealthEquity.



MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Carolina Rodríguez: (347) 396-4177