The Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA has received a grant through ShapingNJ to assist in the coordination of programs that prevent obesity and improve the health of children in Atlantic City. The project is a continuation of efforts that began last year from funding provided through a Robert Wood Johnson implementation mini grant. In 2014, the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids – Atlantic City (NJPHK – AC) embarked on a health and wellness initiative that saw the implementation of the YMCA’s Healthy U Program at two of Atlantic City’s public elementary schools: Texas Avenue and Richmond Avenue. The Healthy U Program is designed to prevent childhood obesity through improved nutrition, increased physical activity, and parental involvement. The NJPHK – AC, which includes Atlantic Care, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the Atlantic City School District, and the Vineland Health Department, utilized the Healthy U Program to reach over 900 students in Atlantic City. To promote healthy eating before and after school, three local corner stores were recruited to participate in the Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative. Those stores include International Supermarket, A & B Market, and Dover Market.
This year, the NJPHK – AC aims to expand the reach of their initial efforts by implementing the YMCA’s Healthy U Program at two more schools. It is hopeful that school wellness policies will be strengthened through the integration of the program into the daily curriculum. The partnership will also be working toward the creation of a city-wide healthy corner store network by September of 2015. Healthy Corner Store Initiatives provide children with the ability to purchase healthier food options while learning the benefits of doing so. From offering new food options, to simply relocating existing healthy snacks to eye-level shelving units, children will be encouraged to make better choices that can positively impact their lives.
Not only does this project have the ability to affect the BMI of school aged children, but it will also provide the education needed to have a lasting impact throughout the duration of student’s lifetime. Increasing the number of healthier food and menu options available through the Healthy Corner Store Initiative will also benefit the community at large and not just Atlantic City students that visit these locations before or after school. While Atlantic City is currently in turmoil with casinos leaving and many jobs being lost, the students of the Atlantic City School District will not be forgotten amidst the issues facing the city.