The Bronx, this nourishing food desert of the United States of America. The Bronx has often been at the top of the list as the poorest congressional district in the country, with more than a quarter-million people living below the poverty line and children faring worse, with forty-nine percent living in poverty, according to census data. A New York University (NYU) study released in February 2015 looked at what they call a “food desert,” a neighborhood where there are no supermarkets and poor people. A food desert is an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food, in contrast with an area with higher access to supermarkets or vegetable shops with fresh foods, which is called a food oasis
Previous studies have shown that these “deserts” are associated with high levels of obesity and malnutrition, which affect the entire community, including young children. The problem is that the survey concludes that increasing access to fresh food (more supermarkets) does not guarantee that the citizens living in “deserts” have the financial resources, time or knowledge to fully enjoy this resource, yet vital.
For the past nine years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin have released the New York County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Report, measuring health outcomes and the critical role that non-health related factors like education, employment, employment, income and environment play in a community’s health, as well as in the health and quality of the residents. The 2019 report, as did the previous reports, ranks The Bronx the lowest, 62nd out of 62 counties in New York State.
Solving these problems is what prompted Social-Entrepreneur, Henry Obispo to become an advocate for his Bronx community, as an activist and community organizer. After years of working on food-justice issues, focusing on bringing access to his beloved South Bronx, Henry’s efforts culminate in an ultimate venture, where he looks to solve many of the ailing realities of his community, by tackling the issues first-hand, opening a juice bar, plant based & vegan eatery with a focus on sustainability and community development for The Bronx to get juicy in next year.
Who is Henry Obispo?
Henry Obispo was Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in the Bronx, from the age of five. As a product of the rich culture Henry’s passion for his community has prompted him to dream big and pioneer businesses for the benefit of all in the Bronx and beyond. He is an alum from New York University (NYU) and has a fully funded scholarship up to Ph.D., from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
For the purpose of abundance, Henry moved to Brazil and studied
Entrepreneurship, through a United Nations program in Rio De Janeiro. While working as a Spanish and Portuguese linguist, Henry studied to become a Certified Tea Master from The American Tea Masters Association. Henry’s entrepreneurial spirit developed an idea to bring health to underrepresented communities through food, drinks, education, consciousness and overall wellness.
As the president of the Bronx Restaurant Cooperative, Henry aims to create a distribution center for local food for restaurants, as well as a building a collective, to be able to transform the food system in the borough and become a model for the world. He created Then Bronx Salad Initiative, the emblematic dish of The Bronx, served throughout the borough, in schools, restaurants, private and public institutions. The most successful food-justice campaign in The Bronx.
The length and trajectory of Henry’s community work allowed him to see the real need of the community. Thus Henry was awarded a federal grant, in partnership with the Bronx-based organization, SoBRO, to help his community by starting a revolution around Food and Tech, launching BORN JUICE: a singular and most-innovative social-entrepreneurship venture, focused on sustainability, Community, zero-carbon-footprint, zero-waste, hyper-local food, grown with hydroponic technology, to produce plant-based food while creating employment in his beloved Bronx.
Born Juice is not just a juice bar but a hub where the focus is on sustainability, economic development, agricultural technology and access to healthy food. Henry says that this movement is bigger than himself as it aims to transform lives, open mind, empower the community on their current realities and foster more awareness about concepts and tools that traditionally have been deprived from them.
Henry Obispo’s mission, from the very beginning, was to create a business that gives back. He says, “I want to showcase that giving back should be integral to one’s mission in business.