Bronx Now in the Running to Win Half a Million Dollars through Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge

The Bronx, New York has been selected as one of 50 members of the HealthyCommunity50 in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge and will receive a $10,000 community seed award. By participating in the Challenge, The Bronx is now in the running to receive a prize of up to $500,000 that will support their local program, the Healthy Beverage Zone (HBZ).

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 working with cross-sector partnerships to implement health innovations and data-driven solutions. The HealthyCommunity50 were chosen based on plans to improve the health of their communities in at least one of five domains: healthy behaviors, community safety, built environment (structural), social/economic factors and environmental exposures.

Union Community Health Center (UCHC), serving as the lead organization, along with partners of the Bronx’s #Not62 – The Campaign for A Healthy Bronx, came together to form the HBZ, a project that focuses on furthering positive health outcomes throughout the Bronx and decreasing the number of chronic diseases that Bronxites develop as a result of increased consumption of sugary beverages. Ultimately, the goal is to champion the Bronx to take back their health by making healthier beverage choices.

“The reality is that millions of New Yorkers live in a food dessert and are impacted by limited access to healthy fruits and vegetables; this is only one in a list of tremendous health and social disparities that exist across the Bronx,” said Dr. Douglas York, CEO of Union Community Health Center. “The grant through the Aetna Foundation creates opportunity for the HBZ project to reach more people throughout the Bronx with education around the dangers of sugary beverages and how making one small change can substantially improve their health.”
With the Bronx having some of the highest rates of diet-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease and dental caries in New York, support from the Aetna Foundation will encourage Bronx residents to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle and elevate the Bronx from being the least healthy county. Continued efforts like the #Not62 – The Campaign for A Healthy Bronx, the SSB Free Zone and the HBZ project are creating slow and steady change in terms of meeting healthcare demands of the Bronx.

“We know that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages leads to higher rates of obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes,” said Jane Bedell, MD, Assistant Commissioner of the DOHMH Bronx Neighborhood Health Action Center. “By using this grant to support the HBZ project, UCHC and its partners in the Campaign are in the forefront of implementing a healthy beverage strategy to combat the effects of aggressive marketing of these beverages in poor communities of color throughout the Bronx.”

To learn more about the Challenge and what it means to be a healthy community visit: and follow the conversation on Twitter using #HealthiestCitiesChallenge and #BXHBZ