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Press Release

Press Release # 074-08
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

CONTACT: (212) 788-5290
Jessica Scaperotti/Sara Markt,

Health Department Receives Federal Grant to Support Community Efforts to Expand Access to Exercise and Healthy Food

Efforts will target Harlem and the South Bronx

December 16, 2008 – The Health Department and the New York Academy of Medicine today announced that they have received a five-year, $2.6 million grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to build an alliance to reduce the burden of chronic disease in East and Central Harlem and the South Bronx. So far, leaders from 30 community groups and other city agencies have joined the partnership. Its goal is to reduce smoking, increase physical activity and improve access to healthy foods in these neighborhoods, which have high rates of poverty and chronic illness.  

The goals of the New York City Strategic Alliance for Health, as the new partnership is known, will include:

  • Training classroom teachers to lead in-class physical activities
  • Closing streets near schools to increase opportunities for outdoor play
  • Expanding participation in free school-breakfast programs
  • Reducing tobacco promotion in the target communities

“One of the surest ways to improve a community’s health is to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” said Dr. Andrew Goodman, Associate Commissioner for the Health Department’s East and Central Harlem District Public Health Office. “And by joining forces with the many groups already working to encourage healthy living, we can reap more benefits.”

“More and more, the evidence shows that real health change begins at the community level and that healthy children become healthier adults. This opportunity to collaborate on a grassroots level with our community partners will make a real difference in combating chronic disease in these neighborhoods,” said Jo Ivey Boufford, President of New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM).

“We are extremely excited about the award recipients because they offer a wealth of knowledge in chronic disease prevention at the local level, and their unique approaches will help improve people’s health and overall quality of life,” said Janet Collins, Ph.D., Director of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

The Health Department’s 2007 Community Health Survey shows continued health disparities in East and Central Harlem and the South Bronx. Last year:  

  • 36% of South Bronx residents and 33% of East and Central Harlem residents reported ever having high blood pressure. The citywide figure is 27%.
  • 34% of South Bronx residents and 29% of East and Central Harlem residents were obese, compared with 22% citywide.
  • 20% of South Bronx residents and 19% of East and Central Harlem residents reported no physical activity in the past week, compared with 16% citywide.

Representatives of the alliance’s partner organizations will meet during the first year of the grant to develop specific plans of action. The NYC Strategic Alliance includes these organizations:

  • Alliance for a Healthier Generation
  • Bronx Health REACH Coalition
  • Central Harlem Health Revival
  • City Life Is Moving Bodies (CLIMB) Project
  • East Harlem Diabetes Center of Excellence
  • Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce
  • Harlem Hospital Center
  • Montefiore School Health Program
  • Neighborhood Open Space Coalition
  • New York Road Runners Foundation
  • New York City Coalition for a Smoke-Free City
  • New York City Food and Fitness Partnership
  • Phipps Community Development Corporation
  • Randall’s Island Sports Foundation, Inc.
  • Saint Nicholas Houses Resident Association
  • Transportation Alternatives
  • United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1500
  • Urban Health Plan, Inc.
  • YMCA of Greater New York
  • City of New York’s Office of the Mayor
  • Manhattan Borough President’s Office
  • Bronx Borough President’s Office
  • New York City Health Department
  • New York Academy of Medicine
  • New York City Department of Education
  • New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
  • New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation
  • New York City Housing Authority
  • New York City Public Housing Resident Alliance
  • New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance