Welcome to the new Atlantic City, where health is imperative and change is occurring! After a very productive and positive summer, it is safe to say that a movement is underway. Six of Atlantic City’s corner stores have begun implementing the Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative. The owners of La Abaduncia, Cedar Basic Foods, A&B Grocery, K&K Gift and Grocery, and Cedar Market VIII—just to name a few—have taken steps toward improving the quality of life for local residents by providing healthier food options.

As where there have been changes to the physical environment, health based educational and encouragement programs have also been expanded to ensure that true impact occurs. Last year, the YMCA brought its Healthy U Program to two of Atlantic City’s schools: Texas Avenue and Richmond Avenue. This year, the program will be brought to New York Avenue School! This means that more children will have the opportunity to be engaged in physical activity. During out of school time, children will have access to healthier foods at participating corner stores.

So, what are the future plans? Recently, the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA, the AtlantiCare Foundation, and Rutgers SnapED department have been discussing expanding education programs by offering health screenings near partnered corner stores and schools. As where this has only been a preliminary discussion, creating a culture of health in Atlantic City looks promising.


Achievement Unlocked: Expansion of the Healthy Corner Store Network and Healthy U in Atlantic City

Atlantic City is turning over a new leaf! The community has voiced its opinion and the verdict is in—healthy eating and active living are of utmost importance. Six corners stores have signed up to participate in the New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative! A&B Food Market, Boom Supermarkets, Cedar Basic Foods  (1700 Baltic Ave.), Cedar Dollar Plus, Cedar Food Market VIII , K&K Gift and Grocery, and La Abundancia have all taken the first step to provide healthier food and beverage options. Staff at the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA will be providing free training to corner store owners on how to properly purchase and display fresh fruits and vegetables, market healthier foods, and conduct product placement seminars.

The Atlantic City School District was not to be outdone by local corner stores. New York Avenue School has signed up to participate in the YMCA’s Healthy U Program. Healthy U is a program aimed at preventing childhood obesity through improved nutrition, increased physical activity, and parental involvement. Results show improvement in key health measurements including increased physical activity and healthier eating.

Moving forward, the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA hopes to partner with Atlantic City’s Family Success Centers to expand the effort through community ambassadors. As where work is moving forward, weaving the project throughout the fabric of the community will be key to achieve sustainability.


Success can be determined by the impact a project has or can have on a group of people over time.  Although the success of chronic disease prevention programs can not be determined immediately upon their administration, projected outcomes can be identified if the program is evidence based. In Atlantic City, the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA and the NJPHK-AC (New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids Atlantic City) is utilizing the YMCA’s Healthy U Program to combat childhood obesity. The YMCA’s Healthy U Program aims to prevent childhood obesity through improved nutrition, increased physical activity, and parental involvement.

Currently, the Healthy U Program is being championed at Texas Avenue and Richmond Avenue Schools. Recently, the program has been expanded to New York Avenue School! The New York Avenue School Wellness Committee will be trained on their next Professional Development Day. The Wellness Committee consists of the school nurse, principal, PE teachers, and various staff members.

The Healthy Corner Store initiative is gaining ground in Atlantic City as the Healthy U program takes the school district by storm. The Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA and the NJPHK-AC has been vigorously scanning and soliciting local corner stores to make the necessary conversions to provide healthier food options for the residents of the communities they serve. By offering a variety of food options devoid of fats, sodium, and excess sugars, the fight against chronic disease would be impacted tremendously. This summer, staff will be tirelessly reaching out to targeted stores around schools and communities to make the biggest impact possible in the daily lives of those that use these grocers as the primary source in obtaining meals.NY Avenue School

Assistance Builds Momentum

To ensure the success of work being conducted in Atlantic City to expand the YMCA’s Healthy U Program and the Healthy Corner Store Program, relationships have been cultivated within the community. As an expansion of work that was conducted last year, the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA has been able to leverage existing relationships to build new ones. Last year, the Healthy U Program was administered in both Texas Avenue and Richmond Avenue schools. PE Teacher Julie Land has championed the expansion of the program to another school.

Due to the statewide success of the New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative, recruiting new stores in Atlantic City to participate in the Healthy Corner Store Program has been made easier. Once again, leveraging past success and prior relationships is key. Once the summer hits, the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA will be sending out more representatives to the area to expand its work.

Excitement in Elizabeth: Partners in Action!

 A World Wind of Activity for Shaping Elizabeth Team

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation came for our site visit for the Healthy Communities grant on April 15, 2015 at The Gateway Family YMCA.  Seven members of the RWJ NJHI Team were welcomed by twelve members of our Executive Leadership Team and YMCA CEo, Krystal R. Canady.  The animated discussion was exciting and allowed us to reflect on the past two year’s accomplishments, most importantly we were able to envision our future.

Freeholder Granados SE 4-16-15 3

Freeholder Sergio Granados addresses Shaping Elizabeth about concerns in Neighborhood Parks.

At the Shaping Elizabeth April Work Group Meeting Krishna Garlic, City of Elizabeth brought a “Surprise” Guest.  Freeholder Sergio Granados arrived to discuss needed changes and renovations to Mattano Park.  The importance of this environmental change is twofold: 1) the families in the BaywayCommunity (Mrvalag Housing) will have a safe, working park for physical activity 2) Shaping Elizabeth influenced this change – working together with  Joe McTernan, Trinitas Regional Medical Center to support the residents of Mrvalag for healthy living.  In 2013 in partnership with Bayway Family Success Center families were interviewed to discuss barriers for health eating and physical activity.  Mattano Park adjacent to the housing complex was perceived as unsafe for their kids to play.  The park is not a city park so it was difficult to affect change from that vantage point.  Krishna spoke with Freeholder Granados.  He came to our meeting to let us know changes would be made in the next year and half. Feedback from our team indicated the need for immediate changes.It was agreed in July we would schedule a “playstreet” in the park. The Freeholder and his staff would support and attend.  The park would receive some immediate clean up and security.The long term project would be outlined at the event.  A great win for the community.

Anna Ramos NJ Food Trust  Speaks to Shaping Elizabeth about Corner Store Initiative.

Anna Ramos NJ Food Trust Speaks to Shaping Elizabeth about Corner Store Initiative.

In March, Anna Ramos from NJ Food Trust shared information about the Corner Store Initiative.  At our April meeting our Healthy Nutrition Work Group led by Jonathan Philips Groundwork Elizabeth and Karen Ensle, Rutgers Cooperative Extension planned phase 1 action steps including: indentifying team members to take pictures of corner stores and bodegas in 3 target areas: Bayway, Elizabethport and Midtown Elizabeth and use the assessment guide to identify stores ready to make some changes to be healthier.  We will meet on May to review locations and select stores for engagement.

In addition the following occurred:

Planning for play streets enticed Well Care Health Care, to provide bikes for a raffle and the City health department will supply 75 bike helmets.

Our School Wellness Work Group will partner with Healthy U schools and the Elizabeth Public Schools to provide an end of year Health Fair with activities and information.

Our Community Wellness Team now combined with the Trinitas Community Advisory team is planning for moving people from Emergency Room visits for primary care to primary care physicians.

Partners:  Prevention Links and Well Care Health Plans are working together to plan activities and programs to support change through the Bayway Family Success Center.

Partners are highlighted above in addition: Proceed, Inc. Community Food Bank of NJ, Elizabeth Neighborhood Health Center, United Way of Greater Union County, Elizabeth Housing Authority, Elizabethport Presbyterian Center, EatWell, Jefferson Park Pre School, YWCA Union County and community members.

Key Decision makers are engaged in various ways: Invited to attend a community forum, SE meetings, email, letters but the most impactful method is face to face conversations with passionate team members.

Shaping Elizabeth Members Get Active Walking with Leslie Sanson in March.

Shaping Elizabeth Members Get Active Walking with Leslie Sanson in March.

Partner websites:

www.tgfymca.org   www.hacenj.com   www.groundworkelizabeth.com   www.proceedinc.com   www.getmovinggetheatlhynj.rutgersedu            www.uwguc.org       www.elizabethnj.org      www.cfbnj.org  www.trinitashospital.org  www.ywcaunioncounty.org  www.preventionlinks.org  www.eportcenter.org  www.jeffersonparkpreschool.org      www.ywcaunioncounty.org  www.wellcare.com