Celebrating “Color Me Healthy” with Food Corp!

The YES Program of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen continues to provide opportunities of nutrition education with the families and children in New Brunswick.

Children and families enjoyed a field trip to the New Brunswick Farmer’s Market on July 23, 2015. This culminating activity as part of our “Color Me Healthy” nutrition education classes was a great celebration of our continued work on improving the knowledge of the New Brunswick community on nutrition and health.

Children, families, and staff participated in a tour of the children’s garden, enjoyed tastings of fresh fruits and vegetables, made “seed balls” with clay for planting, and took a fresh peach home to eat! All families received a $5 Market Bucks coupon to spend at the Farmer’s Market before they left.

While we were visiting, a van from Elijah’s Promise was there picking up produce to bring back to their kitchen!   Elijah’s Promise is one of several community partners that the Market serves.

Catholic Charities YES Program continues to be amazed at the energy around the subject of promoting health and nutrition within New Brunswick. This could not be possible without all of our community partners and relationships that we have developed through this project!

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A visit to the farm

DSC_0067We started this month with a visit to our farm, Willowbrook Farm.  Our farmer, Karen, has been working very hard with her crew to produce some pretty impressive healthy foods for our members.  On our visit the three families who are receiving the weekly produce were able to walk the farm and see where their veggies would be growing.  DSC_0072There were also some quick facts regarding the many different types of produce the farm would be growing this season. DSC_0081Since the members visited, the veggies are a plenty up here in Sussex County, with great thanks going to Willowbrook Farms!  Our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) recipients have been enjoying amazing bounties of vegetables each week this month.  They have enjoyed cabbage, sweet peppers, sage, lettuce, snap peas, Swiss chard, radishes and more each and every week.

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Our farmer, Karen. She is making a difference in the lives of each of our participants by growing healthy and nutritious meal options. Thanks so much Karen!

PARTNERING OPENS UP FUTURE POSSIBILITIES

DSC01026We Feed Chair 3

Fern Kulman, Health Educator for Woodbridge Department of Health and Human Services recently interviewed Peter Barcellona concerning his experience with collaborating with us on the Healthy Food and Food Pantry Initiative.  Peter is the Chair of “We Feed” which coordinates the local Food Pantries in Woodbridge.  He acts as the liaison between Woodbridge Township and the local Food Pantries.  Peter’s role in this initiative has been to provide outreach for the grant process to the selected pantries.  He has been instrumental in communicating to the selected food pantries in regards to the Registered Dietician’s outreach and education.  He feels that the current Grant has enhanced the Health Department’s relationship with the local food pantries and has opened up a new path of communication and cooperation between the two agencies. The Grant has provided the pantry volunteers with essential information on healthy eating.  In addition, there has been an increased awareness in the community in regards to what is considered a healthy food donation.   However, there have been some key challenges working with the Food Pantries.  Space was limited at the selected Food Pantries and thus a cooking demonstration could not be held.   Also, there was a language barrier at one selected Food Pantry since many clients there spoke only Spanish.  When asked about how we can continue to enhance our outreach Peter recommended that we continue to promote the healthy food donation list wherever we can.  Peter is making the healthy food donation flyer available at this year’s Woodbridge Summer Concert Series.  There are concerts held most days of the week and residents are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food donation when they attend.  He also suggested that the healthy food donation flyer be sent to the school system in the fall for inclusion in the student’s packets.  Lastly, Peter feels the ShapingNJ Grant collaboration was a success and would like to see an expansion the healthy food initiative to include another Community Garden within the Township.  This would increase the Grant’s sustainability.  He further suggested that creation of an additional Community Garden may be a good Scout project or a project for Tooling Around the Township in April 2016.

A gardening we will go, a gardening we will go!

The YES Program of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen is excited for spring and better weather ahead. With the weather breaking we have been able to begin our preparation for our planting. Through our new collaboration with the Food Corps and New Brunswick Farmers Market the children have been enjoying a variety of weekly activities surrounding healthy eating, cooking, and gardening projects. The classrooms have been busy implementing these activities since March and they have been thoroughly enjoyed!

The planting has begun for our sunflowers, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers with the help from our Food Corps friend, Ms. Reyes. Additionally, healthy snack activities were enjoyed by the children surrounding the discussion on vegetables. Participation has been at 100%. Information and feedback on the activities implemented will be collected once the classes begin to wrap up.

Thus far, the program has enjoyed the new partnerships and expanded focus on health and nutrition through our Healthy Families Community Day in April to our partnership with 4-H and the YMCA on healthy options and physical activity ideas. The excitement for this project has been overwhelming and staff have really worked as a team to enhance the education of the community and our families on this important topic.

The program continues to plan for upcoming activities focused around health and activity. Plans for a Father’s Day Healthy Breakfast in June, a Family Fitness Fun Night in July, and workshops surrounding preparing healthy lunches are some of the events being discussed.

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Oh, We’re (more than) Halfway There!

(Written by Allison Smith, RD, ShopRite of Lincoln Park) We’re actually way more than halfway to completing our grant project.  The two main projects were completing food environment audits for each food establishment in Lincoln Park and building a 1/2 mile walking path at Lynn Park.  So far, with the help of our intern, Wincy, we have completed 14 out of the 16 food environment audits.

Food Environment Audits

Food Environment Audits

Of those completed, one was a supermarket, one was a small grocery store, three were delis or small specialty stores, and nine were food service establishments/restaurants.  What’s really exciting is that as a result of the audits, the owner of Wolfson’s Market, a small grocery store, has agreed to work with us to promote new healthy options to encourage healthy eating to customers.

Wolfson's Market, Lincoln Park

Wolfson’s Market, Lincoln Park

This is really a win-win situation for the town and for the business owner because it will support public health efforts and improve sales.

The walking path in Lynn Park is well on its way to completion with the help of Lincoln Park’s public works department, and once it is finished there will be a celebration!  It feels like we are really on our way to completing the projects we set our goals on last winter!

Lynn Park, Lincoln Park

Lynn Park, Lincoln Park

Lynn Park, Lincoln Park

Lynn Park, Lincoln Park

In other news, this past Sunday marked the first farmers’ market hosted by Lincoln Park in collaboration with Montville Township.  Although not part of the ShapingNJ grant, it’s very exciting to have our first local farmers’ market for the two communities.

Farmers' Market

Farmers’ Market

The market is held at the Towaco train station on Sundays from 9am-2pm.  Last weekend ten vendors participated and hundreds of people attended.  It was a great turn out and really exciting for the community!