If you build it, they will come

The expansion of the walking path at the Salem County Recreation Park is complete! The expanded path is a half of mile long and ADA complaint. It loops around softball and soccer fields along a wooded tree line. Walkers have been out in full force enjoying the expanded walking path.

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The installation of two exercise stations, a bike rack, and marker signs are expected to be installed in the beginning of October. Improvements to the parks such as benches, shrubs, trees, and a fence are in the future plans for this park. Position of equipment

Improving our parks will provide physical activity opportunities and can help people of all ages lead a more active lifestyle. According to the countyhealthrankings.org, in Salem County only 82 percent of the population has adequate access to exercise opportunities.  The NJ state average is 96 percent and the US top performers are at 92 percent. Investing in our parks and open space is an investment in our community.

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In 2015, Salem County overall health ranking improved #18 out of 21 NJ counties.  A small improvement from the 2014  ranking of #19. We will take it! Thank you Shaping NJ and the other organizations that invest in improving the health of Salem County.

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The Salem County Health Department is committed to promoting healthy lifestyles.

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!!!

A Culture of Health Growing at the Greenwood Ave. Farmers Market

As the weather cools with the change in seasons, the Greenwood Ave. Farmers Market staff reflects on the experience they’ve had since June 15, and its impact on the neighborhood. From Bike Fest where children and adults came together to test their biking skills, receive bike safety equipment, and purchase bicycles and tricycles, to visits with the mayor; from our grand opening with many speakers and representatives to our regularbike fest markets on Monday that are filled with produce, music, and smiles; we are always appreciative and humbled by the community that has been cultivated and grown with nutrition as its catalyst.

We have watched a transformation in our customers occur throughout the season. A weary population who were accustomed to unreliable businesses and had learned to not trust new events such as a farmers market, has transitioned into a network of regular patrons who are energetic as they continue conversations with their new friends from the Monday before and encourage their friends and family to join them as they play bingo and shop for healthy food items. Those who were shy to be approached in the beginning are now the ones engaging our staff enthusiastically about what recipes they used last week and which produce they are excited about this week. It is easy for us to enjoy ourselves at the market as our customers usually have a joke or kind word to share, and readily convey to us their appreciation for what the market brings to the neighborhood.

We are pleased with our attendance for the market, as more than 3,200 people have visited the market to shop from June until September. Almost $1,460 in incentives have been distributed through our membership in programs such as the Greenwood Green Program and City Green’s Good Food Bucks Program with Wholesome Wave. These are incentives for customers with benefits such as SNAP/EBT, WIC, and FMNP to use them at the market and we match their purchases $1 for $1. Many locals benefited by the provided health services. Henry J. Austin servednorz staff 112 patients during the market. Their services included nutrition consulting, asthma, HIV counseling and testing, information on insurance and the Affordable Care Act, and body mass index (BMI) readings. Horizon saw 60 patients throughout the Farmers Market and their services included blood glucose testing, blood pressure screenings, and body mass index (BMI) readings. The Impact Van served 151 patients during the market. Their services included body mass index (BMI) readings, blood pressure screenings, blood glucose testing, HbA1c’s for diabetes, and glaucoma and vision screenings.

The community has shown us they are grateful for the market’s contribution to Trenton. The customers, vendors, services, DJs, and our own staff have all been influenced by being a part of growing a culture of health and bringing diverse populations together. We are glad to be introduced to each other through the means of nutrition and wellness, and intend to continue to strengthen our lives as we move forward as a communal unit. We are glad the surrounding area of the once vacant parking lot on the corner of Hudson and Greenwood Ave. have embraced the market into their lives. We are so happy to be there.

Wonderful Ending to a Wonderful Program

We here at East Orange Community Development Corporation-EOCDC (soon to be known as “Horizon of Hope of the Oranges, A Family Care Center”, have truly enjoyed being a part of such a worthwhile project.  Health, health education, nutrition, nutritional food products, exercise, initiating exercise routines, gardening and growing healthy,nutritional foods that benefit our bodies have all been a part of the message EOCDC is spreading to its communities.  Developing partnerships with Our Lady Help of Chrisitians School to do the community garden and helping to get our communities healthy through our Nutrition Classes, food pantry and exercise classes has been an exciting journey. Collaborating with our local and municipal entities as well as the community has opened the opportunity to develop positive relationships and parternerships.

We have waiting lists for the Nutrition Classes as a result of former participants passing the word throughout the community. Our participation rate has doubled and our food pantry participate access has tripled since we began in February 2015.

We are excited to begin our community garden next Spring and looking to build a green house within the garden to grown veggies and fruit all year long. There is plenty of space and the community participates who will be volunteering are anxious to begin.  We are seeking assistance for this project from Rutgets 4H Club and our local vendors. The photos below show the lot before we got in there and began the cutting, raking, mowing process and the lot once we finished. This has been a wonderful ending to a wonderful program that is really just beginning.

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Lincoln Park Seniors Rock the Path!

pic1This final blog is a little late but for good reason….I waited until our “September Stroll” to post.  The first day of Autumn was picture perfect!  The sun was bright, sky was blue and the temperature mild.  A good part of the spring and summer were spent building this path in Lynn Park and now it was officially being inaugurated with our Lincoln Park Seniors.  We were hoping for at least 10 seniors to show up, but happily had 37 seniors plus many other walkers!  The Health Educator from Chilton Hospital’s New Vitality Program, Kathy Ferrara, ShopRite’s Registered Dietitian, Danielle Colombo, and Bloomfield Health Department’s Health Educator, Michael Hodges, were all present to support and educate on the many benefits of walking.  Michael Hodges presented a David Letterman-style “Top Ten” countdown of the benefits of walking.  We also had the pleasure of Kate Kraft walking with us!  It was a fun way to start our Senior Walking Club!  The walking club will meet 2-4 times/month, but many seniors and residents are already using the path on their own.

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Our food environment audit was performed at 16 local dining and retail establishments in Lincoln Park.  We found some positive factors, such as heart healthy options, organic choices and nutritional counseling in ShopRite, but there is definitely room for improvement.  Future goals for ShapingNJ include partnering with Wolfson’s Market to create a “corner store,” and creating healthy menu items for some of the local dining establishments.  Kate Kraft had some great recommendations on healthy eating as well as “walking prescriptions,” that we can incorporate going forward.

pic6This has been a wonderful experience for Lincoln Park and we look forward to keeping the momentum going towards better health!