On January 24, Hostos Community College’s Center for Bronx Non-Profits sponsored a town hall meeting to discuss the importance of healthy eating and having access to fresh foods. “The Challenges of Urban Food Systems” was the first in the Center’s Public Conversation Series of quarterly events that will focus on emerging paradigms in public policy and non-profit practice.

The initial meeeting drew over 120 attendees who heard a panel of experts speak about systems that are working, those that are missing the mark, and initiatives that show promise for the future. Topics addressed by the panel included urban gardens and green markets, making nutritious food more available in urban areas, social accountability, making healthful food production its own economic engine, and the role of government.

Organized with the assistance of consultant Paul Lipson, the panel of local and national experts on nutrition and other food-related issues included the following: Tanya Fields, Executive Director of The BLK ProjeK; Barbara R. Greenberg, Advisor to the Levitt Foundation; Heidi Hynes, Executive Director of the Mary Mitchell Center; Rick Luftglass, Executive Director of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund; Kerry A. McClean, Director of Community Development at WHEDco; Kelly Moltzen, Nutrician Coordinator/Healthy Schools NY Program Coordinator, Bronx Health Reach; Siddhartha Sánchez, Special Program Consultant, Simón Bolivar Foundation; Karen Washington, President, La Familia Verde; and Kolu Zigbi, Program Director, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation.

Eileen Newman, Executive Director for the Center for Bronx Non-Profits, said she was pleased that so many stakeholders attended this important event. “We are very excited about the conversation and the response from so many people working in a variety of  ways to provide healthful food alternatives to the people of the Bronx,” Newman said. “This type of community event fits the mission of the Center perfectly.”

In his opening remaks, Hostos President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez spoke about the importance of addressing an issue that has had a negative impact in the Bronx for a long time. He also mentioned that Hostos wants to partner with the community and be proactive in finding solutions to persistent problems. The College is also planning to create courses that will prepare our students to become the leaders  in this important crusade.

This event was co-moderated by Javier López, MPA, District Director for the Office of Congressman José E. Serrano, and Adam Liebowitz, Coordinator of Community Food Funders.

The series seeks to highlight the innovations of Bronx practicioners and the grant making of New York area funders—their successes as well as disappointments as they grapple with new challeges in commmunities and test pioneering approaches to resolve longstanding public policy issues.

For more information about the Center for Bronx Non-Profits, go to: http://www.hostos.cuny.edu/cewd/programs/centerbx.html.

About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. It serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College's unique "Student Success Coaching Unit" provides students with individualized guidance and exemplifies its emphasis on student support services.

Hostos offers 29 associate degree programs and five certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY's four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of The City University of New York (CUNY), the nation's leading urban public university, which serves more than 480,000 students at 24 colleges.