Partnerships are Key

Launching a new project (Produce Distribution)  into a community that has no similar program or current base and which has never been done before was a small challenge but, it became clear quickly as the connections and networking began that local businesses, agencies, organizations and individual people would be supportive.  The key was to build relationships and trust which led to partnerships.

After a few weeks of consistent service and a strong presence within the community we were able find a suitable site for ongoing distribution.  Although it was much appreciated that the El Quetzal store allowed us to launch from their site we knew that we needed to find a more appropriate longer term site.  Thus began the relationship between the YMCA Produce Distribution program and the Evangel Church of Clinton, NJ. EvangelClinton[1]

The continued success of this project will be the growing communication circle which truly is word of mouth.  Although we do post signage outside our new location spreading the word will need to come from the participants and we have already begun to see that occur.

In addition to establishing a new partnership with the Clinton Evangel Church it is the support of  America’s Grow a Row, United Way, Panera Bread and other organizations that allow us to move this project forward.  Without their support this program would not be able to be offered.

Growing Produce Success in Clinton, NJ

When we choose to expand the produce distribution project into Clinton N.J. it was due to feedback that there was a growing need within that community. Although the true numbers were not documented because of the status of many of the people, it became apparent quickly that there was a true need for excess to fresh produce in the community. The programs success truly comes from the communication circle within the target population.

When the program was launched (during the foul weather months) 3 people came to take advantage of the service. As the time went on and the program was consistent we grew to serving 13 individuals on average weekly. Our current unduplicated list of participants is over 25 individuals; however after our most recent survey it was determined that from the 25 unduplicated participants there were over 75 more individuals that were part of the unduplicated participants’ households. The continued growth of this program is not due to strategic marketing but from word of mouth amongst the participants.

An additional success or surprise that came of this project was the awareness of how little information was being received by our participants from local non-profits and county agencies which this particular population could truly benefit form –  I.e. – dental care, health services, childcare, and access to affordable/ free clothing. From the produce distribution site has grown a communication hub for community services. Many of the local agencies and or county services now utilize this program as a location or site for communication distribution  and the participants have come to know it as a multifunctional site.

Get Ready for the Phillipsburg Farmers’ Market Day!

Farmers MarketThe Warren County Health Department and Rutgers Cooperative Extension SNAP-Ed are collaborating to host the Phillipsburg Farmers’ Market Day. The event will take place on September 11th between 2:30-7pm to promote more fruit and vegetable intake throughout the community. Hensler Farms and Mackey’s Orchard will be the primary vendors at the event supplying their freshest seasonal produce. Since the purpose of the event is to increase fruit and vegetable intake throughout the community, the farmers are allowing local residents to use their Senior/WIC (FMNP) vouchers.

This is not just your ordinary farmers’ market event; there will be fun family activities like free health screenings, free fruit and vegetable tasting samples, a door prize giveaway sponsored by the Phillipsburg Mayors Wellness Campaign, and many local health organizations will be having tables promoting their services. Another great part of the farmer’s market event will be all the free children’s activities.  Nutrition students from Montclair State University and Public Health Students from East Stroudsburg University will be volunteering to help out with this event. Some activities include a moon bounce, face painting, Cross Fit for kids, beanbag toss and seed spitting. The kids will have the opportunity to make their own farmers’ market bag and participate in a scavenger hunt around the farmers market. Kids learn through fun hands on activities and games and that it really the goal of this event.

For more information, check out the poster with the link below:

Farmers Market Poster

Visit the Elevator, WALK the STAIRS

If you’ve had the pleasure of entering Bloomfield’s municipal building, you will notice something a bit different – signs around the elevators encouraging folks to take the stairs and burn a few extra calories.  Recently, Michael Hodges, the Health Educator, and Gail Gutierrez, the Wellness Coach, met with all of the department heads from the Township of Bloomfield to inform them of the new initiative – Take The Stairs.

In addition to informing the directors and gaining their buy in, the team also wanted to explain why physical activity is so important, especially for those with sedentary office jobs. For instance, did you know that even if you exercise, long periods of sitting are associated with:

  • Mental Fatigue
  • Poor Circulation and Heart Disease
  • Bone Loss and Poor Posture
  • Slow Metabolism and Insulin Problems

With the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their “StairWELL to Better Health” we found these great motivational signs that we have posted throughout the municipal building.

Decision prompts at the elevator

Supporting physical activity for Bloomfield.

Supporting physical activity for Bloomfield.

take the stairs

Encouraging messages in the Stairwell

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More Messaging by the Elevator

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Reminders by the vending machines.

Reminders by the vending machines.

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Closer look of vending machine reminders

In addition to taking the stairs, other suggestions for office workers include:

  • standing when speaking on the phone.
  • walking to a colleague’s desk in lieu of e-mail or phone.
  • setting reminders on your computer or phone to take a break from sitting every 1-2 hours.

With these signs and the photos from The Historical Society of Bloomfield  that we’ll be displaying in the stairwells, we hope to encourage employees and any visitors to the municipal building, who are able, to get that body moving and take the stairs.  We’d love to know what you all think.  Give us a holler by commenting or liking the blog, and learn more about our programs at 

Interested in supporting your very own mini-campaign to encourage more activity at your workplace? If so, check out the CDC’s website at for some helpful resources and ideas.


Jonathan and Priscilla bring Healthy Information to Emily's.

Jonathan and Priscilla bring Healthy Information to Emily’s.

Emilys Corner Store Second visit #2

Store Manager Jose becomes familiar with healthy signage.

Emilys Corner Store Second visit #6

Karen observes a healthy new cereal that consumers can purchase.

Emilys Corner Store Second visit #7

The team is welcomed by Jose. Success Emily’s Corner Store made 5 Healthy Changes.

Success Emily’s Corner Store made 5 Healthy Changes.

Our Corner Store Team made a second visit to Emily’s to observe the healthy changes that were made.

We observed that Jose had implemented 5 changes 100% Juice, Whole Wheat Bread, a new Veggie, 2 whole grain cereals, and a lean meat option.  The team made some suggestions for a few more items: 1% milk, more canned fruit in light syrup and 100% juice.

We will be requesting the $100 grant to support additional changes in location of items and displaying them.  We will visit the store again and begin to set up food tastings and healthy recipe cards in September.

Team members posted the corner store healthy signage to begin to educate consumers on how to make healthy choices.