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

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Busy Bees at Warren County!

Sarah Shoemaker talking about Choose Healthy Warren County @ WNTIWe’ve been busy in Warren County! To date, we have 11 municipalities signed on to the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign with several more in the wings.  Municipalities like Belvidere, Frelinghuysen, and Knowlton are issuing proclamations and gearing up to use their mini grants for the promotion of bike trails, 5k races, and health screenings! Bike racks have been chosen for several county parks and will be ordered very soon. Planning for our Farmer’s Market day is well under way. Hensler Farms and Mackey’s Orchard will be selling produce at our event, and we are working to add additional food vendors and organize family-friendly activities.  And our Choose Healthy Warren County – Healthy Menu Options Program was recently promoted on WNTI by our fearless leader Sarah Shoemaker!!

Listen here! (Sarah’s segment begins around 39 minutes)

Hitting the Half Way Mark

There have been a few factors that have helped the health department carry out the strategies for the grant. This includes assistance from others in different organizations, meetings with grant developers to assess the progression of each person’s individual tasks, and support from community members. The biggest factor that has helped the development of the project as a whole was creating a timeline. Since the grant is composed of four unique strategies, a large number of tasks need to be done in order for each strategy advance further. With the grant period ending in mid September, events promoting each strategy have been spread throughout the summer. This allows those working on the grant to prioritize tasks based upon when the projects and events are supposed to occur. Even with a timeline in place however, there still have been some challenges. With a generally short time period for the grant, there is at least one major event occurring each month. Therefore, many tasks need to be completed each day and must also be done so based on priority. While prioritizing, it’s also important to keep up with other tasks that do not necessarily need to be completed right away. So when these tasks eventually move up the priority list, a portion of the grunt work has already been done. In order to combat these challenges, we’ve received much help from others in different organizations. For instance, Albert Krouse from the Warren County Planning Department has lent some of his time to help complete the pocket map guide for the Farmers Market Voucher Promotion program. His skills and expertise on map-making helped this portion of the grant move along faster. We are also looking into further promoting local businesses participating in the grant’s programs at this year’s county fair. The health department will be conducting health screenings for the public and as an incentive, there will be raffle prizes. Prizes will consist of gift certificates and produce baskets provided by local businesses participating in the Healthy Menu Options program and Farmers Market Voucher Promotion program. So come to the county fair and check out the health department’s table! Ask us more about the grant’s different strategies and ways to start improving your overall health!

Choosing Healthy & Moving Right Along!

Main St. Hackettstown

Hackettstown, NJ – home to the Healthy Menu Options initiative of Choose Healthy Warren County

Recruiting potential partners to participate in our Choose Healthy Warren County programs has been moving along smoothly! The restaurant owners of Hackettstown were excited and very interested in learning more about the Healthy Menu Options program. After meetings with several owners explaining the program, 11 agreed to participate. They include: Stella G’s, Pandan Room, TOPO, Zaytun Mediterranean Grill & Cafe, Hackettstown Health Foods, Prickly Pear, Pasta Grill by Enzo, Bea McNally’s, Mezza House, Marley’s Gotham Grill, & Mama’s Cafe Baci. Some are even promoting their new creations already! Hackettstown BID director, Jim Sheldon, and his wife recently dined at the Pandan Room and learned about the upcoming program and new dishes. He and his events coordinator are planning on coming up with a strategy to promote the program further by encouraging the community to dine at these restaurants.

The same type of positive attitude have been found when reaching out to discuss the Mayors Wellness Campaign and Farmers Market Voucher Promotion. Municipalities who have already taken the pledge are in the brainstorming process of creating new events and activities that should take place sometime during the summer. Frelinghuysen is planning on doing a senior citizens walk on June 6th and Mayor Christopher Kuhn issued a formal proclamation at the April 15th twonship committee meeting. Washington Borough’s mayor is coordinating with a nutritionist/fitness instructor to create an event with different exercise classes. These events were used as a tool to encourage participation with municipalities how have yet to take the pledge. By showcasing these easy, fun, and creative events, hopefully it encourages other towns to jump on the bandwagon! Using the list of vendors provided by Jersey Fresh, each were contacted and the majority was more than excited to participate! They were looking for a way to draw in a larger customer base and being placed on a pocket map seemed like a great way to start. Assisting with the compilation of the map includes Albert Krouse from the county planning department and he will be the one to design the map itself.

Brenda Rosario, WCHD’s intern from Rutgers University, has also been a key participant in getting these programs off the ground and running. It has been her responsibility to gather a list of potential participants, set up meetings, conduct follow-ups, and compile information packets about each program to present to businesses. Without her help, the Choose Healthy Warren County program would not be possible!

Getting the ball rolling!

Encouraging healthy eating habits and becoming more active while encouraging a sense of community unity is the main focus of the grant all together. There are so many things in the world that makes our day so busy. Whether it’s work, school, or anything in between, it’s hard to remember to keep track of the number one priority, our own personal health. Creating events and programs that encourage healthy living through outlets the community engages in will hopefully be the start to a healthy change.

Right now the Warren County Health Department is in the beginning stages with each strategy, but much has been done. Even though right now its mainly just meeting, speaking with vendors, creating information packets, and coming up with rough drafts, the bigger picture is still in mind. After speaking with a few restaurant owners, they seemed to be very interested in the Healthy Menu Options Program and excited to get the ball rolling. By the end of the grant period, the goal is to have at least six restaurants participating in the program. For the Mayors Wellness Campaign, there are currently eight municipalities who have already signed the pledge. Hopefully we can double that number to make sixteen and also come up with some original events and activities that no other town has done before.

In regards to the Farmers Market Promotion, the intended end product is a pocket guide map. The map would include the address and pinned location, a list of what produce is sold at each vendor, what items are in season, and which vendors accept government issued vouchers. As an added bonus, the map would be small enough to fold into your pocket! In order to get all these programs and events known to the public, we hope to revamp our social media platforms and really get involved with the community. We want to utilize our social media accounts so that there is a constant flow of communication between the health department and those we serve. Knowing and understanding the concerns and interests of local residents will help the department get a better grasp on the community as a whole.

Since the grant is currently at the development stages, you can expect a lot more to cultivate and progress. So stay tuned!