This month, CB4 focused on health in Bushwick, including a presentation on “healthy bodegas.” Photo by Aaron Short for BushwickBK
6:34 PM: It’s Community Board 4′s first meeting of the new year and the theme tonight is health. Specifically your health. As in, you need eat more fruits and vegetables and get yourself to a gym. The Department of Health is here to talk to you about it. And they brought flyers.
On the menu tonight: General Tso’s chicken with broccoli, sausage and potatoes, salad, sautéed vegetables and rice. There’s a lot of tasty oil in this and I don’t want to know the caloric content.
6:53 pm: Chairwoman Julie Dent calls the meeting to order beginning and District Manager Nadine Whitted introduces the presentation, referencing a funeral she went to on Madison Avenue of a 465-lb Bushwick resident who died earlier this month.
"Everybody in that room was overweight. I don’t mean a little overweight. I mean morbidly obese. We as a community must take charge of our health status. The fact remains, we have a health crisis and we need to do something about it," Whitted says.
The Department of Health’s Oscar Heath and NYC Food and Fitness’ Sharon Wong explains the Adopt-a-Bodega program which is designed to put more fruits, vegetables, lowfat milk, and whole grains into bodegas — apparently so that you’ll buy them when you shop there instead of a pack of cigarettes and some nachos.
"A lot of bodegas here don’t offer healthier food. We’re trying to go into the bodegas and make minor changes. For example: sodium. We have people with hypertension. Why can’t bodegas serve foods with low sodium?" asks Oscar.
7:14 PM: Whitted reads the first roll and there are 30 members present and gives the mic to Dent, who introduces elected staffers, of which there are six.
Dent notes a new co-location high school proposal at the Bushwick Campus to take over the valuable classroom real estate left by the Harbor School, which has since left for Governor’s Island. A public hearing for community feedback is for February 16 at 6 pm at the Bushwick Campus, 400 Irving Avenue.
City comptroller John Liu is giving a workshop about audits, "The Power of an Audit," at the Brooklyn Public Library next Wednesday. No word as to whether Ridgewood Bushwick staffers will be invited to attend.
Still feeling peckish, I ask Sharon Wong and Oscar Heath if it is okay to get seconds.
"It depends what you get," Wong says.
Unfortunately, everything has been eaten. I waited too long.
7:30 PM: Whitted gives her report, starting with the fact that she was out of town during the recent blizzard:
"Since the Christmas holiday, I think I’ve had two garbage collections. I grew up here, it wasn’t the worst snowstorm, and we have to have better collection. They’re being very sensitive about this. Don’t hold back [when you complain to the city about sanitation collection]. Make this better for us," she says.
Whitted noted the Parks Department’s tree-planting ceremony at Maria Hernandez Park and that there could be more "green cart" food vendors in Bushwick’s parks.
Whitted also attended the Achievement First charter school’s visitors day this week, explaining, "we were excited by what we saw there. I was impressed with the students — they’re really scholars. We’re expecting great things from them."
7:43 PM: Laura Braslow gives the first Arts and Culture Committee report ever, talking about helping plan the Brooklyn-Queens Day parade in June and reaching out to community members to enhance other arts activities in the neighborhood.
7:47 PM: Mary McClelland gives the Health and Hospitals Committee report and thanks Oscar and Sharon.
"We have to be healthy. We have to have healthy foods in the community."
7:49 PM: There’s no old or new businesses so it’s straight to announcements. I’ll summarize.
*Laura Braslow notes that Site FEST is coming and it is going to wreck you. First weekend of March.
*There’s a health fair at the Williamsburg Community Center at 195 Grand Street later this month complete with mammograms and blood-sugar level tests.
*Achievement First is recruiting for K, 1st, and 5th grade.
*The health committee’s meeting is being rescheduled due to illness.
And that’s it. A short meeting with a few announcements. Here’s hoping for some meatier, high-fat, high-caloric topics next month.
Bushwick’s Community Board 4 meets on the third Wednesday of every month (except July and August) at Hope Gardens Community Center, 195 Linden Street at Wilson Avenue. To contact the office any other time, call 718-628-8400 or visit 315 Wyckoff Avenue, 2nd Floor.