The Health Bucks Program

According to data released by the Department of Health, the percentage of New York State adults who have obesity increased from 16% in 1997 to 27.1% in 2019. Obesity among children and adolescents has tripled over the past three decades, and a third of New York’s children are currently obese or overweight. It has also been revealed that obesity prevalence among New York City boroughs is highest in the Bronx at 30.5%.

Obesity is not only linked to an increased risk of life-threatening chronic diseases but also negatively impacts an individual’s mental health due to the societal stigma that is associated with it. In children, this type of stigmatization can lead to serious shame, self-blame, low self-esteem, and depression. According to recent studies, poor nutrition and obesity also affect students’ thinking skills, behavior, and health, all factors that impact academic performance. Diets high in trans and saturated fats and nutritional deficiencies are known to negatively impact the learning, memory and cognitive development of school-aged children. A child who has access to good nutritious foods has increased cognition, concentration, and energy levels. Therefore, it has been one of NDLC’s missions to cultivate healthy eating habits among Hispanic youth and families in our communities.

As part of our parent engagement programs, the Health Bucks Program offers families in Bronx nutrition workshops. The workshops aim to educate the community on ways to create healthy eating habits, make wise food choices, and adopt effective budgeting techniques that allow families to plan their spending which in turn enables them to purchase healthy and nutritious foods.

Families who participate in the workshops are given health bucks, $2 vouchers distributed by the NYC Health Department that can be used to purchase FREE fresh fruits and vegetables at designated NYC farmers’ markets. As part of this initiative, families and the Niño de la Caridad staff get together to walk to the neighboring farmers’ markets to make purchases. Some regularly visited farmers’ markets include those in Poe Park, Fordham Plaza, and the Bronx Botanical Garden. The Health Bucks Program is offered annually from July to November.

At NDLC, we believe that academic success is more easily attainable when students acquire healthy living and eating habits. Our Health Bucks Program not only helps create more healthy communities but also supports children’s academic and social growth, preparing them for life-long wellbeing and success.