East Orange Healthy Living Coalition

The East Orange Healthy Living Coalition plans to expand the HIKE (Healthy Initiative to Keep Exercising) program launched in 2013. Last year, the coalition, with funding from Shaping NJ, developed an urban trail system throughout East Orange. This year, we plan to expand HIKE by adding four new sites to the urban trail, for a total of 10 sites along the trail. We will work with the City of East Orange police department, health department, hospital, school recreation department, churches and businesses.
The Coalition will promote the trail through social and traditional media and promote its official opening through a youth 3K walk/run and a Senior Mile Walk program. We plan to engage many community partners, especially the churches and East Orange Hospital, in promoting the importance of walking as a fitness activity for all ages.
We chose to expand the HIKE program because there was more to be done.  We wanted to finalize the urban trails with our community partners who were committed to the program.  Moving forward with this program, we expect our biggest challenge will be engaging citizens to use the trails on a regular basis once the excitement of the initial opening begins to fade. We plan to develop an incentive program for trail use to encourage continued use.
The Coalition also will undertake a nutrition initiative to promote healthier families through better nutrition planning. The goal of the initiative is to increase community wide understanding of the importance of a well-balanced diet to help build a healthier community. We hope this will create a conversation among community members about obstacles they experience that keep them from preparing nutritious meals.
One of the key objectives of the nutrition planning initiative will be a survey of East Orange families regarding food availability and affordability within the community as it relates to planning nutritious and well-balanced meals. Survey results will assist in the Coalition’s discussion and future action regarding opportunities for and obstacles to families using more fruits and vegetables in their meal planning. By opening the dialogue between residents and city and community leaders, we have the opportunity to look for comprehensive solutions to hunger and nutrition issues across various constituents in the community. Survey results will inform future conversations about possibilities that include farmers markets, community gardens, school lunches, family nutrition education and much more.

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