It’s Official

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The Healthy Corner Store Initiative has been officially implemented!!  Tobacco King and Friendly News & Food officially kicked off the initiative yesterday.  The schools (Carteret & Fairview) were provided with signage & flyers too in time for Back to School Night.  This way parents and students alike were made aware of the initiative’s implementation.store pic9 store pic7

As the healthier products were placed into the stores, there was enthusiasm from customers that were present.  One customer was truly pleased about the availability of fresh fruits at Tobacco King.  She exclaimed to the owner upon the foods being placed onto the counter, “Mahesh, I’m so happy you have bananas!  I would definitely want a banana some mornings.  Oh, and you have apples too!”  The owners seemed to have a sense of pride about their participation too, indicated by the huge smiles on their faces.  The challenges occurred mostly with store financial limitations, which limited some stores to a single vendor, which in turn limited the availability of healthier food items.  In spite of this, the following items were introduced into the stores:

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  • Tobacco King introduced whole fruits, such as the aforementioned bananas and apples.  Sixty four percent of fifth grade Carteret students surveyed wanted fruits in the store.  Sliced fruits were most preferred, so individual snack packs of sliced apples were introduced too.  Dried fruit was introduced also by the addition of raisins.  (Unsalted nuts & seeds, which a large percentage of Carteret students surveyed wanted, were unavailable by this store’s vendor).
  • Friendly News & Food introduced single-serving cartons of skim milk, individual snack packs of sliced apples (fifty-one percent of students surveyed at Fairview wanted sliced fruit) and individual snack packs of baby carrots.  We also highlighted healthier foods already available at the store.

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Although there is still a long road ahead with this initiative (sustaining it & increasing the # of stores participating in it), everyone’s cooperative effort in getting it to this point has been invaluable!!!

Visit the Elevator, WALK the STAIRS

If you’ve had the pleasure of entering Bloomfield’s municipal building, you will notice something a bit different – signs around the elevators encouraging folks to take the stairs and burn a few extra calories.  Recently, Michael Hodges, the Health Educator, and Gail Gutierrez, the Wellness Coach, met with all of the department heads from the Township of Bloomfield to inform them of the new initiative – Take The Stairs.

In addition to informing the directors and gaining their buy in, the team also wanted to explain why physical activity is so important, especially for those with sedentary office jobs. For instance, did you know that even if you exercise, long periods of sitting are associated with:

  • Mental Fatigue
  • Poor Circulation and Heart Disease
  • Bone Loss and Poor Posture
  • Slow Metabolism and Insulin Problems

With the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their “StairWELL to Better Health” we found these great motivational signs that we have posted throughout the municipal building.

Decision prompts at the elevator

Supporting physical activity for Bloomfield.

Supporting physical activity for Bloomfield.

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Encouraging messages in the Stairwell

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More Messaging by the Elevator

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Reminders by the vending machines.

Reminders by the vending machines.

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Closer look of vending machine reminders

In addition to taking the stairs, other suggestions for office workers include:

  • standing when speaking on the phone.
  • walking to a colleague’s desk in lieu of e-mail or phone.
  • setting reminders on your computer or phone to take a break from sitting every 1-2 hours.

With these signs and the photos from The Historical Society of Bloomfield http://bloomfieldhistorical.org  that we’ll be displaying in the stairwells, we hope to encourage employees and any visitors to the municipal building, who are able, to get that body moving and take the stairs.  We’d love to know what you all think.  Give us a holler by commenting or liking the blog, and learn more about our programs at http://www.bloomfieldtwpnj.com/health-human-services/ 

Interested in supporting your very own mini-campaign to encourage more activity at your workplace? If so, check out the CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/hwi/toolkits/stairwell/index.htm for some helpful resources and ideas.

Summer Biking and Beyond

This summer we’ve been busy installing the rest of the bike racks.  In the last two months, ten bike racks have found a new home in Bloomfield.  A big shout out to the Bloomfield Recreation Department, the Department of Public Works, and the Bloomfield Board of Education who all coordinated to agree on sites and arrange for their installation. Now students and residents can get around town in a healthy and sustainable manner knowing there are places to keep their bikes secure.  Don’t forget your locks, though.

Taking the stairs campaign will be working with the Bloomfield Historical Society http://www.bloomfieldhistorical.org.  We are thinking of utilizing historical photos such as these to hang in the stairwell in an effort to draw town employees and residents to the stairs. Isn’t it fun to look at old photos of your community and spot the differences? Can you see modern Bloomfield in these photos?

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The Bloomfield Centennial Monument to the Soldiers and Sailors of the Spanish American War, Civil War, War of 1812, and the American Revolution, was dedicated in June of 1912.

The Bloomfield Centennial Monument to the Soldiers and Sailors of the Spanish American War, Civil War, War of 1812, and the American Revolution, was dedicated in June of 1912.

Our team also followed up with the Friendly News and Food, one of our Health Corner Store participants.  We compiled and analyzed the questionnaire findings from the 51 fifth grade students from Fairview school who completed the survey, and shared the results with the store owner, Vijay.   We learned that 70% of fifth graders visit the store “sometimes,” and that the most likely reason they visit is to purchase a snack, 75%.  Also, their most desired food choice is fruit and their most preferred beverage is water. Now Vijay can be prepared in September when the children come bustling in the doorway on their way to school.

By the way, thanks to Janet Heroux, we learned that this process of questioning a group of potential consumers is also know as market research.  A process the Bloomfield Health Department is undergoing in an effort to complete the national standards as set forth by the Public Health Accreditation Board.

Students learn how to make good choices at corner stores: Fruit Snacks – No. Fruit- Yes.

Bloomfield Health and Human Services is bringing our message of the Healthy Corner Store Initiative to the community.  We have partnered with William Paterson Nursing Students, Chris Balbin and Adrian Nwosu, seen here leading 5th graders at Carteret and Watsessing Elementary School.  They created this presentation to help students understand how they can make healthier choices when shopping at the corner store before or after school.

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The students were engaged and had lots of questions.  Some wanted to know the difference between these popular sports drinks and other juice beverages.  Others wanted to know what is in tonic and seltzer water.  We talked about the increased amounts of sugar in most beverages, and the concept of “empty calories.” Then defined for the students what a nutrient is and how, as health-conscious consumers, we want to eat food that offers the most nutrient bang for the buck.  We listened to the children tell us about their knowledge of MyPlate.gov and how they have learned to properly read food labels.  We discussed the reasons for having healthier choices – decreasing chronic diseases like diabetes, to maintain a healthy weight, and to improve their performance and focus in school and sports.

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Afterwards, we had the students complete a brief survey to get a better idea of what they are more likely to purchase, and we were able to clear up some misconceptions of what healthy is.  Some thought that fruit flavored gelatin snacks are healthy – NOT.  How about dried mango, cranberries, or raisins.  Nuts – get the low salt or no salt option.  Juice – check that label.

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What an awesome day at the school with the young ones!!

Working Partners in Bloomfield

We are so excited to be working with nursing student interns from #WilliamPatersonUniveristy @wpunj_edu at the #WPUnursing school.  Our Nursing Department @bloomfieldHDNJ regularly takes in nursing interns, and we were fortunate enough to have Sara Jarri, Adrian Nwosu, Christopher Balbin, and Samuel Arana work with us on the #Healthy Store Initiative.  While they are working on a project for school, they will also be working with Fairview and Carteret Elementary Schools in Bloomfield.

Carteret Elementary School in Bloomfield NJ

Carteret Elementary School in Bloomfield NJ

Fairview Elementary School in Bloomfield NJ

Fairview Elementary School in Bloomfield NJ

The interns have put together a proposal with the objective of increasing awareness of the students to the benefits of healthy food choices and how to recognize healthy foods and unhealthy foods.  They have compiled a photo presentation for the 5th grade in each school that explains how the Healthy Food Initiatives will work in their respective corner stores participating in the program.  Incentives will be introduced specifically to the 5th graders, but information about the program will be sent home so all students and families can participate.  The rationale behind focusing on the 5th graders had to do with the fact that they will be returning to the school and will hopefully carry on the tradition of buying wholesome snacks for school.

In conjunction with The Department of Public Works and The Recreation Department for Bloomfield, we have installed the bike racks at Pulaski Park and Brookside Park in Bloomfield.

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Just in the nick of time, with the weather catching up to the time of year.  We’ll get there eventually.  Happy Biking Bloomfield.