Food Insecurity in the Bronx: What Fordham and You Can Do About It

The Bronx is home to Fordham University and thus Fordham should treat it as such. Though the general public is not allowed within Fordham’s gates, the Bronx welcomes students with open arms. It is about time that Fordham students appreciate their surroundings and lend a greater hand in standing with the community.

The Bronx may no longer be burning, but it is still struggling and it is Fordham’s responsibility to support the community. NY City Lens reports that, “the Bronx has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the country”. According to Feeding America, food insecurity is defined as, “a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life”. This issue needs to and can be addressed, especially with Fordham’s help. 

Fordham has several community partners, but not all students interact with them; even when they do, it tends to be on their own terms. Additionally, there are a lot of students who do not leave campus on a daily basis, meaning they have little to no regular interaction with anyone beyond the gates.. This lack of consistent connection with the community is dangerous because stability and consistency are a part of what produces change, which cannot happen when Fordham students only reach out occasionally. Also, being in touch with your community is essential to understanding where the issues truly lie. Food insecurity is something that needs to be looked at through the lens of long-term change; it is not something that will disappear tomorrow after a day of volunteering. Therefore, Fordham should encourage students to plan volunteering on a regular, consistent basis. Even though college students are notorious for being extremely busy, this “regular, consistent basis” can be once a month or once every other month, not only daily. Planning it out this way is more efficient than waiting for an email that shares a new volunteer opportunity every once in a while. This holds students accountable to their commitments (if they do commit to volunteering) and prevents it from slipping from their crowded minds.

Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus tends to be one of the biggest attractions for new students. Since the greenery is so beautiful; of course, this must mean a large chunk of the school’s budget is dedicated to landscaping. Though it is still something the school should, and needs to keep, some of that money could go toward helping the communities’ greenery instead of what is hidden behind the gates. The Bronx is a food desert, meaning there is a lack of easy access to healthy, affordable food. If Fordham invested money into making community gardens near campus, it could be another avenue for residents to have access to fresh vegetables, herbs, etc. right in their own neighborhood. Soni also brings up another initiative that is trying to address this issue:

[BronxWorks] is one of the nonprofit groups working with the City’s Shop Healthy initiative, which encourages partner bodegas to make healthier options more visible and appealing for people… They work with bodegas to add more healthy snacks near the checkout counters, place signage in junk food aisles indicating what healthy alternatives are on sale—and why they might be better—and rearrange the store layout so the fruits and vegetables are immediately visible when someone walks in.

This effort is crucial in understanding how the Bronx is addressing the issue of food insecurity and what you can do to support what is already being done. Supporting local businesses is a very important and effective way to support communities and it should be no different with these bodegas. Fordham students should be encouraged to support local businesses and try food in the neighborhood even if it isn’t on Arthur Ave. This is why I encourage you to check out these bodegas, and the next time you are in one try to reflect on the following questions: where is junk food located in relation to healthy food? Are there any signs pointing to healthy alternatives? Are there any fresh fruits or vegetables?

Communication is an essential aspect of every part of life. Part of the issue is the lack of communication with residents to where they can access healthy, affordable food. One thing I have already learned and heard so much about Fordham is the strong connections made here and how these connections are beneficial when trying to find a full-time job after graduation. These connections can and should be used to benefit not only the students but the Bronx community as a whole. Many of these alumni were once residents of the Bronx too. Therefore, Fordham can use its connections to people from across the globe, and especially right here in the city, to breach that broken communication and aid the community in informing the residents of where to access healthy, affordable food. Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center released a food resource guide which aims to provide additional resources and support to community members whose lives are impacted by COVID-19”. This guide is very beneficial and thorough; however, it is extremely long because of how comprehensive it is and that does not make for the best communication with residents. A consolidated form of this guide focused around the local community would be the best way to reach residents. Fordham’s connections would come into play here because Fordham has the capability to share and spread information easily. 

Ultimately, you have the power to enact real change in the Bronx community through supporting local businesses and volunteering on a regular, consistent basis. However, this burden of fixing a long-lasting problem is not one to be taken on alone. It is not an individual’s responsibility and if there was a simple, easy solution then it would have been implemented by now. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at time”. This is a long-term battle but it is a battle worth fighting for.