Institute Staff Meets with State Senator Alessandra Biaggi to Discuss Health and Nutrition in the Bronx
On December 12, staff from the Institute visited State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (NY-34) in her Riverdale office. The Senator and Maris Gelman, Director of Constituent Services, spoke to us for more than an hour about the issues affecting the Institute’s work in the community – both at the health centers and in the communities we serve.
The Senator was especially interested in the food and nutrition work being done by the Institute’s Bronx Health REACH program and its Creating Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC) program. Kelly Moltzen, CHSC program manager, explained that “Bronx Health REACH tries to get to the root of why people get sick, and programs like CHSC help implement wellness policies in schools and give children a healthy foundation for their lives.”
Senator Biaggi is a sponsor of the NYS Health Act [A.5248, S.3577], and we spoke about the importance of ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to care. She was pleased to know that Institute staff had testified at hearings in the Bronx and in Kingston, NY, in support of the Act. In addition, Senator Biaggi stated that she is that she is committed to protecting important funding that helps to support community health centers, such as the Patient Centered Medical Home program and the Indigent Care Pool, saying, “these are critical programs that provide valuable health care to our state’s most vulnerable residents, and I will fight to ensure that they are preserved.”
Senator Biaggi also discussed her sponsorship of S.4128, a NYS Senate bill to bring healthy foods to vending machines. Ms. Moltzen and another Institute staff member, Moria Byrne-Zaaloff discussed the WELL Campaign (Wellness, Equity & Learning Legislation) which asks for a New York State model school wellness policy, and funding to go to the New York State Education Department for school districts to develop and implement wellness policies based on the model state wellness policy. Senator Biaggi was surprised to learn that 24 other states have school wellness statutes in place but New York does not. We also discussed the Bronx Health REACH’s Healthy Bodega Initiative and “Don’t Stress, Eat Fresh” campaign to help make fresh produce more accessible in the Bronx.
We also thanked the Senator for having her staff member Maya Moskowitz address the crowd at the recent rally at City Hall to promote the #Not 62: Campaign for a Healthier Bronx. The Senator stated that “The #Not62 campaign is an important effort. I commend the groups involved for recognizing the need to address these issues, and I want to work with all of you to help make the Bronx a healthy place to live.”