Woman drinking water at a water fountain.
Always looking for ways to spread information about healthy and wellness on and off campus, Hostos Community College is thrilled to be a part of the recently formed, “Healthy Beverage Zone” (HBZ) —a project led by Union Community Health Center and in partnership with members of #Not62.

This collaborative campaign, which seeks to reinforce and expand existing strategies on healthy beverage consumption to reduce obesity and diabetes in the Bronx, received a huge boost from Hostos Assistant Professor from the Health Education and Gerontology Units, Elys Vasquez-Iscan. Vasquez-Iscan was instrumental in obtaining a grant and forming the project, as well as the multi-sectoral community team. This grant also supports the current work of the Hostos Food Studies Program, which is the first academic program of its kind at a community college in the country. Both the HBZ initiative and Hostos’ Food Studies Program aim to change the current food and health landscape of the Bronx.

Fabian Wander
Fabian Wander (pictured above), the Director of Hostos’ Health and Wellness Center, will oversee the Healthy Beverage Zone initiative at Hostos. On Sept. 28, Wander participated in a press conference announcing HBZ, and talked about new water fountains on campus designed to refill water bottles and has a digital display which indicates how many water bottles are being saved from waste dumps. Wander also talked about how Hostos is offering healthier beverages for sale on campus alternatives by working with its vendors.

HBZ has been selected as a HealthyCommunity50 finalist, in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge. As one of the finalists, HBZ project will receive a $10,000 community seed award to help implement the Campaign throughout the Bronx and we are now in the running to win up to $500,000. The Challenge, a partnership between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties, will award $1.5 million in prizes to small and mid-sized cities, counties and federally-recognized tribes that are able to show measurable change over the course of several years.

Below is the chart of the HBZ community partners and their roles:
Union Community Health Center (Co-Chair HBZ project; Hospital system outreach); Hostos Community College (Co-lead research/evaluation); Bronx Health REACH (Co-Chair HBZ project; Schools and faith based community outreach); NYC DOHMH in the Bronx Neighborhood Health Action Center (Collective Impact Backbone support for the HBZ project & iHEAL; Co-lead research/evaluation); NYS Senator Gustavo Rivera, 33rd District (Legislative and policy advisement; Constituent outreach); Claremont Healthy Village affiliated with Bronx Lebanon Hospital, Dept. of Family Medicine (Public housing outreach; Hospital system); New Settlement Houses Housing (Afterschool programming outreach); Casita Maria Center for the Arts Performing arts (Afterschool programs advisement outreach); HealthFirst Insurance (Health insurance services advisement); Bronx Community Health Network (Community outreach; Health information network); US Health & Hospital, Office of Minority Health, Region 2 (Federal government support); Davidson Community Center (Merchant corridor support; Afterschool programs, Community outreach); Lincoln Hospital, NYC H+H (Public hospital liaison; Community outreach); Building Healthy Communities (Municipal agency outreach).

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 two certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to The City University of New York’s (CUNY) 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 CUNY, the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 500,000 students at 24 colleges.