AtlantiCare’s Healthy Community 2013 project will target adults and families residing in the neighborhoods of Atlantic City with limited access to the Atlantic City Boardwalk for physical activity and little access to fresh produce and other healthy foods due to transportation barriers. Representatives from AtlantiCare and the Atlantic County Health Department met this week to plan the implementation of this program with the goals of providing opportunities for safe physical activity and increasing access to healthy foods in the target neighborhoods.
The group identified three parks in Atlantic City where walking paths could be established or where existing paths could be enhanced with signs detailing the benefits of walking. These parks are in neighborhoods accessible to a large percentage of Atlantic City’s residents and also offer a safe environment for exercise. Next steps in regard to the walking paths include: (1) contact Atlantic City’s Parks and Public Property Office and obtain approval for the placement of walking signs in the identified areas; (2) begin the design and production of walking signs and trail maps; and (3) finalize a distribution plan for trail maps and educational information to individuals in the targeted neighborhoods.
Relative to increasing access to healthy foods in Atlantic City, the group will be contacting the managers of farm markets and supermarkets close by to garner their participation in a produce voucher program. Residents in the target neighborhoods will receive $2 vouchers to be used for the purchase of fresh produce at participating markets. The AtlantiCare marketing department will design and produce the vouchers.
Finally, the group discussed holding healthy food preparation demonstrations at parent meetings at Atlantic City schools, at several of the high rise/apartment buildings in target neighborhoods, and inside a local grocery store. Demonstrations may also be offered in conjunction with the Health Department’s blood pressure screenings that are held throughout the city several times a month. One demonstration was scheduled as part of the Minority Multicultural Health fair to be held by the Atlantic City Health Department and the Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative on April 23. At that event fruit smoothies will be demonstrated and sampled by attendees of health fair. Recipe cards will also be provided.