DOVER IS READY!

As our Shaping Dover initiative comes to an end we start to reminisce about our project, its challenges, its impact in our community, our activities, and all the people who have helped us get here. We can’t help but feel proud of our accomplishments.

We started by meeting monthly with great community partners such as: Zufall Health Center, Berkeley College; Get To It Program, ADP Insurance Agency, Little Peoples Academy, NORWESCAP Early Head Start, Henry O. Baker Insurance Agency, Head Start Community Program of Morris County, Dover Rotary Club, Statewide Parents Advocate Network, and Dover Lions Club, interns from William Paterson University, volunteers from our Family Success Center agency and In addition to these great partners, we are pleased to have the support of decision makers in our community such as James Dodd, Major of Dover; Susan Downer, Health Inspector of the Town of Dover, and Claudia Choto, Nurse of the Town of Dover.

 

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These meetings allowed us to brainstorm great ideas for our initiative. First, it was decided to conduct assessments for food environment and physical activity in the Dover Community. More than 300 residents were surveyed. The results of the surveys guided us on where to focus our resources in order to make the most impactful environmental change possible. The results gave us an idea on what the residents of Dover needed the most such as more access to gyms and healthy food. Fifty one percent of the residents surveyed said that they “sometimes” engage in physical activity, meanwhile they listed “no time, no motivation, and no parks nearby as the major reasons why they do not engage in physical activities.

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The Shaping Dover team decided to focus on creating free fitness workshops and fitness activities, while working with restaurant business owners to add healthier options in their menus. We had non-stop fitness workshops every Saturday at 12:00pm at our agency. However, the number of participants outgrew our facility thus we contacted our mayor’s office who gladly is permitting us to use the Dover Community Center. This center has the space to allow us to grow and offer the Dover community a place to exercise indefinitely.

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In June 2015 we partnered with our local Health Department in order to train business owners and their employees in proper food handling and nutrition classes. More than one hundred individuals participated in this training which took place at Berkeley College, our local college in Dover. After having these trainings we surveyed the participants in order to analyze their cooking techniques and willingness to change or add to healthier options to their menus.

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Seventy one percent of the restaurant owners/employees surveyed answered that they are willing to consider changing their cooking technics. Furthermore, Business owners responded that 46% of customers have at some point requested healthier options in their business.

We encouraged business owners to give us ideas on how to implement our goals. One of these suggestions was to design a logo that would express the meaning of Shaping Dover. The purpose of the logo contest is to raise awareness of our initiative while also getting kids involved in a healthier frame of mind. Kids ages 10-18 will design our logo and will not only receive great prizes but also better understand what it means to live a healthier lifestyle. The award ceremony of the contest will take place on October 3rd at the Annual Health Fair of one of our biggest supporters, The Head Start Community Program. This year The Dover Head Start program is also celebrating their 50th anniversary. We are extremely excited for Shaping Dover to join their celebration.

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We are sad to see Shaping Dover coming to an end but we believe it has started a fitness revolution in our town. Dover is a peculiar town filled with great people who join together despite being from so many different backgrounds. We have the best restaurants in New Jersey (no, we are not biased) and we are working towards having the healthiest town as well. We are looking forward to what the next couple of months will bring but we are confident the community is ready for health!

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DOVER IS ACHIEVING HEALTH

Our town of Dover is becoming a better place to exercise and live healthier thanks to Shaping Dover. This grant has inspired us not only to have places where we could find healthier food options but it has also inspired us to move! Shaping Dover has helped us to create a fitness workshop that has been a great success in our community. The fitness workshop has had more than 20 attendees who have been coming weekly or biweekly to exercise while having fun!

The fitness workshop has been given by our volunteer Humberto Castrillon, a certified personal trainer who has been a great supporter of our initiative. The Morris County Family Success Center has been surprised of how many people have showed interest in joining our classes. Participants are beyond excited about exercising while learning safety techniques and practices which can be followed through at home. One of our most eager participants is Carmen Roibal, who happily shared with us some of her thoughts about our fitness workshop. Before the workshop Carmen had never exercised besides doing an occasional walk.

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Due to our overwhelming response our space has become small for the classes. Therefore, we are in the process of combining forces with the Town of Dover Mayor’s office in order to take our fitness workshop a step further.  We hope to take our classes to our towns’ parks and/or recreational center.

Come join us for some fun!

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PARTNERING FOR HEALTH

Fabio Montoya, Food Safety Trainer; Susan Downer, Health Inspector of the town of Dover; and Carlos Caprioli, Program Manager of the Morris County Family Success Center, at Berkeley College, where the trainings of the restaurant owners and cooks took place.

Fabio Montoya, Food Safety Trainer; Susan Downer, Health Inspector of the town of Dover; and Carlos Caprioli, Program Manager of the Morris County Family Success Center, at Berkeley College, where the trainings of the restaurant owners and cooks took place.

Today, we are thrilled to be interviewing Susan Downer, Health Inspector of our town of Dover. Susan is a Registered Environmental Health Specialist and licensed by the state.

Susan, could you tell us a little bit of what you do?

I do primary and follow-up inspections of public establishments to ensure compliance with sanitary codes. I work inspecting restaurants, septic systems, child care facilities, and also take care of health complaints, recreational bathing and any other various inspections.

What are the educational requirements needed in order to become a health inspector?

To become a health inspector you need a science based bachelor’s degree . I personally graduated from Rutgers. Then, you have to do a mandatory internship at a health department, prior to sitting for a health exam, pass the exam and get licensed.

What makes you passionate about your job?

I am a people person which motivates me and makes me passionate about my job. I feel like in being a health inspector you have the opportunity to talk and help people. I get to help people with their problems, and consequently make a difference in peoples lives.

How did you become involved with shaping Dover?

The health department was contacted by Michelle Blanchfield from Zufall Health Center I went and sat down with her and that’s how it all started.

In your opinion how healthy is Dover?

It’s like everywhere some people are very health conscious and some people aren’t.

When you visit these restaurants what is your overall impression of their foods? How healthy do you think is the food from Dover restaurants?

I see some healthy choices such as salads or brown rice.

Do you see the people buying these items?

Like I said there is a fraction of people that are very health conscious. The people that I work with certainly order those choices and as far as the restaurants all together I think are a mix.

What were your expectations in getting involved in Shaping Dover?

I think is something that brings the community together a little bit more, people got to know each other, and we get to work with the restaurants for better menu choices or adding a healthier choice to their menu and we will incorporate a physical activity along the way so the goal is to get the restaurants to offer healthy choices to their menus.

Do you think that Shaping Dover brings a positive impact to our community?

I think that Shaping Dover is definitely a positive influence for the community because there’s currently a more open viewpoint to a heathy lifestyle . It’s great for the community to know that there are people out there that are looking out for their best interests.

Do you think that individuals from the community will follow through with our goals after our grant period is over?

Yes I do, I think that the people that Shaping Dover is partnered with are very committed individuals that are definitely going to follow through.

Any extra thoughts about your experience in being a partner for Shaping Dover?

I was involved in offering education to the restaurant/corner stores owners and their employees. I thought that this was a great experience and we had a great turn out. People looked interested and learned about what Shaping Dover is and now know where they can get information not only about nutrition but about the services offered in Dover from the Family Success Center and the Dover Health Department. We are here to help and will always be here to help. We are a permanent fixture in town.

A special thanks to Susan Downer for her time and most importantly for being a key partner for Shaping Dover. As a health inspector she has people’s lives in her hands, plays a key role in protecting the public from many common health threats and we are extremely excited about having her input and expertise in our team.

 

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WEIGHING IN OUR PROGRESS

Shaping Dover is on its way to make a difference in Dover. The Shaping Dover team along with volunteers has conducted more than 300 surveys up to date in order to assess the nutritional habits, the physical activity and needs of the Dover community. Moreover, we organized a very successful fitness workshop which will be conducted twice a month and expectantly weekly with the help of volunteers and personal trainers.

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On an even higher note our supportive Dover Health Department along with our team will be conducting their annual food handler’s course to which will be added a nutrition class in order to educate restaurant business owners as well as their cooks on proper food handling procedures in addition to healthier alternatives in regards to their food choices. A total of four courses will be conducted in the upcoming week. More than 100 restaurant business owners as well as corner store owners are expected to attend!

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Training for Restaurant Owners and Cooks

We are still in the process of gathering surveys from the various organizations assisting us. Our partners have been great at allowing us to join in their various activities where we have collected surveys from a varied demographic of Dover residents. Volunteers have also conducted surveys at the local clinic and nursing homes.

We have come a long way in our efforts to make Dover aware of the value of proper nutrition and physical activity. This grant has allowed us to jump start our goal of having a healthier community. More work will be taken into account once Shaping Dover further evaluates the needs of the community.

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FACILITATORS AND CHALLENGES

The Shaping Dover project has faced challenges which have been dealt with as they appear. However, there have been important key factors which have helped the Shaping Dover team get closer to its goals. Moreover, the help of facilitators and resources have been an important element in order to further the success of our initiative.

Our project has been well received by community leaders and the public in general. This factor has helped in the development of our mission. However, we have also come across some challenges particularly in the engagement of restaurant owners. Approximately 25 owners have been contacted and invited to attend our meetings. Some business owners have attended but some do complain of the lack of time they have in order to assist to the nutritional courses. Moreover, some business owners have been afraid of making a physical change in their menus.

The challenges mentioned above have been addressed and discussed with the Shaping Dover team. First, in regards to the lack of time the business owners shared, the team scheduled more trainings on many different dates and at various times during the course of the day. Moreover, the team rapidly engaged Susan Downer, Health Inspector for the Town of Dover, who shared her experience about working with restaurant owners in the Dover community. She is also working together with the Shaping Dover team in order to implement nutritional courses for restaurant owners and their employees. Business owners will be invited to participate in the Shaping Dover nutritional courses and simultaneously gain a certificate from the Health Department of Dover which attracts them to our initiative. Additionally, business owners have been reassured that the Shaping Dover’s purpose is not to change but to add a healthy option (s)  to their menus which will not in any shape of form affect their current businesses. The town newsletter is an additional resource that has been put in motion. An article letting the public and business owners of our town be aware of our initiative is in the process of being published within its next edition.

Directors from various Child Care Centers in Dover such as, Head Start Community Program, NORWESCAP Early Head Start and Little Peoples Academy have volunteered to help conduct the questionnaires needed to assess the physical and nutritional habits of Dover residents. Zufall Health Center will also help conduct these surveys. Volunteers from Morris County Family Success Center are also in the process of conducting surveys to the public. We are extremely content with the progress the Shaping Dover team has done. Regardless of the challenges we have faced the Shaping Dover team has managed to make great use of resources and has gotten the support of great community leaders and volunteers.