Several times during the year, the Ironwill Foundation offers a six-week wellness program at the Mercy Center in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx.
The program focuses on issues related to nutrition, shopping and cooking, which fits into Mercy Center’s mission of “offering programs and services that empower women to reach their full potential and become agents of change in their families and communities.”
I recently became involved with Ironwill and just finished my first six-week session.
The environment is challenging, as there is limited access in the South Bronx to affordable, healthy food. There is relatively no education available in regard to proper food choices and food package labeling—which is mind-boggling to begin with—can be especially daunting (I would even say insidious) for those whose first language is not English.
The local Pioneer supermarket specializes in packaged and processed foodstuffs. What good food there is tends to be exorbitantly priced, especially for those in Mott Haven, where, according to the Mercy Center, “the median household income is $14,271, compared [to] the citywide median of $31,717 and the U.S. median of $41,994.”
Despite the inherent hurdles, the women loved the program and started pondering changes they could make to improve how they and their families eat and think about food. The highlight, though, was undoubtedly the action taken by Beatriz, the mother of two young children.
Check back tomorrow to learn how Beatriz changed her thinking about food and conquered her neighborhood’s food desert. It’s an inspiring story.