Micah Bookman, a health educator and advocate in Harlem, shares in his own words why he’s an advocate for healthy food access.
In my work as a health educator at Harlem Children’s Zone and throughout the city, I have met with hundreds of students and parents with the same distressing issue. They want to eat healthier, but do not have access the resources necessary to achieve their goals. That’s why I have teamed up with AHA to Call on the Mayor and the City Council to help meet the demand. In the past month, I’ve testified in front of the New York City Council, led a workshop with the American Heart Association at the Just Food Conference, and spearheaded community outreach to make our voices are heard. I support expanding funding for healthy food access programs, especially Health Bucks, because they have tangible and positive impacts on our communities.
Health Bucks give many children their first access to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. When my students go to the farmer’s market they can feel the dirt on the carrots, they can see the tomatoes as they ripen and they can smell freshly picked basil. These moments change their understanding of food and what is achievable. Their eyes are opened to the options beyond highly processed fast food. Funding Health Bucks makes their food affordable and their growth possible.
In my community, there is a hunger for fresh and nutritious options. There is a hunger for a healthy future without the pains of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. I am working to make access to healthy food a priority in this year’s city budget so that it can become a reality for all New York City communities.