I went to college at Fordham University in the Bronx. To people who don’t know much about New York, the first thing that happens when I mention this fact is that they say I must be tough since I’m from the BX.
Unbeknownst to them though, Fordham is one of the most preppiest and upper middle class schools in America and even though it’s situated in the Bronx, there’s a fence that keeps anyone out who doesn’t have an ID.
Fordham kids might be tough in their own way but most of us are also very privileged.
It would be unfair to say we didn’t care about issues affecting the Bronx. Over half of my classes and activities centered on volunteering and ending suffering. I never could say I understood the suffering though no matter how hard I tried to.
One such issue that I thought about a lot was the concept of ‘the food desert’. This meant that the accessibility to people in the Bronx to fresh produce and healthy foods were slim to none. It was a concept I could vaguely wrap my head around. Outside of Arthur Ave and Little Italy, it was easy to see that the only options were bodegas unless you wanted to ride the subway system for over 30 mins. That’s not that big of a deal in the car but being someone who enjoyed trekking all the way to Manhattan (an hour subway commute one way) I understood why toting bags back and forth wasn’t ideal.
Especially after working.
It’s funny because I know I’m still very privileged if not more so. I’m living on an officer salary without any dependents and I have little debt (thanks to the Army).
Yet, I eat fast food about four times a week and while I don’t know if I’m officially living in a ‘food desert’ I’m starting to understand how working and giving limited options can affect a person.
If I don’t shop on the weekends, I won’t be shopping that week. I get out of work and the grocery stores are closed. I could go to Walmart but at 7PM after working all day and really hungry, that drive into town isn’t ideal.
On my way home I pass a McDonald’s, Hardee’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, and something called Diego’s Burrito Bar.
I only live eight minutes away from work.
It’s crazy too because I was showing habits of lazily just buying food instead of preparing it in college but underneath my dorm was a restaurant called Cosi which sold things like tomato mozzarella and basil sandwiches and since it was in my dorm, only college students ate there. It was my go to.
Now that my go to is Taco Bell, I’m starting to get really nervous about my eating habits not because of weight gain or anything like that, but just performing physically and staying healthy.