Jobs Could Improve Health of the Bronx, Advocates Tell Its Residents

Community health advocates in the Bronx say more jobs for the community could improve the overall health of the borough, which suffers from the highest diabetes and asthma rates in the city.

Health People and Green Bronx Machine are encouraging Bronx residents to apply for 200 jobs up for grabs over the next three months at FreshDirect, the online grocer that's moving to the Mott Haven neighborhood in 2015.

"Unemployment clearly contributes to diabetes because it makes people depressed and when they're depressed, they tend to eat more and sit more," Chris Norwood, executive director of Health People, said in an interview.

The Bronx has an unemployment rate of 12.8 percent, much higher than the 9.6 percent citywide average and the highest of any county in the state, according to the New York State Department of Labor.

FreshDirect has pledged to create 1000 new jobs by the time the new facility is fully operational, at least 300 of them for Bronx residents. The new positions include 75 plant jobs and 125 transportation jobs that pay around $11 or $12 an hour.