Ready, Set, Go – Beating Obesity in Somerset County!

As we neared the end of our ShapingNJ grant period, just one item remained unchecked on our project list. Two of our three target communities – Bound Brook and Manville – had adopted Complete Streets, and we were pleased to learn that Somerville, the last of our target communities, had placed it on the agenda for their September 8 council meeting. With Healthier Somerset representatives in the audience, the resolution passed and Somerville became the eighth municipality in Somerset County to adopt a Complete Streets resolution. Over one third of Somerset County municipalities are now on board with a commitment to make our roads safer for all those who use them.

When we started our project, we knew that we needed policy change to create an environment that would support healthier lifestyles.  We learned that implementing change takes time, patience, perseverance, and collaboration.

Our Results

We also learned that partnerships not only make the workload easier, they also improve the final product. All of the partners who participated contributed ideas and energy that changed our perspective and helped us meet our objectives in ways that we had not imagined almost a year ago, when we prepared our grant application.

Here’s what we all achieved by working together:

  • “Complete Streets” policies passed in 3 targeted municipalities
  • 16 bicycle racks purchased and distributed in targeted municipalities
  • 300 vouchers distributed for purchase of fresh fruit and vegetables in local farmers  markets
  • 6 nutrition seminars presented; attended by 125 children and adults
  • 140 bus tickets given out for free rides on Somerset County public buses
  • Increased partnerships among county agencies

As we close the chapter on this grant, we would like to recognize all our partners and thank them for their support and contributions:

  • EmPoWER Somerset
  • Morris-Somerset Regional Chronic Disease Coalition
  • NJ SNAP-Ed
  • RideWise TMA
  • RWJUH Somerset
  • Sanofi US
  • Somerset County Food Bank Network
  • Somerset County Health Officers Association
  • Zufall Health Center

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.

take the stairs

Encouraging messages in the Stairwell

take stairs3

More Messaging by the Elevator

take the stairs4

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  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 

Interested in supporting your very own mini-campaign to encourage more activity at your workplace? If so, check out the CDC’s website at for some helpful resources and ideas.


Cucumbers are coming!

Cucumbers are Coming!

Zesty Zucchini!

Zesty Zucchini!



We recently had two volunteers helping at the garden, a young man visiting with his mom. We heard that when he returned from the garden, he could not stop talking about the frog he saw! It made us realize the garden is not just about growing and eating – it’s about nature and fun discoveries! Our volunteer groups are so dedicated. They come regularly to water, weed, and harvest. So far we have very small harvests – just a few squash and peppers. The basil is a bit overwhelming but we are sharing recipes for pesto, pizza, and Caprese salad. The Swiss chard will be ready any day now. Any suggestions for what to do with it? Tomatoes and more squash will come soon as well. Our pineapple and chocolate mint plants can be trimmed – we are also looking for recipes for these herbs. Our coordinator, Jessica, has been researching garden care and is doing a great job keeping us up to date with maintenance, as well as methods to keep the critters away. Our patio furniture has been purchased and will provide a place for a bit of rest for our busy volunteers, as well as a spot for quick meetings. We recently received a grant from Land O’ Lakes Foundation and are so thankful for the many companies that are community minded and are helping us share healthy food with our non-profits. Shaping NJ grants have truly been the foundation for this great project!

Let the Good Times Bowl!

The members of our Adult Program at the Borough of Eatontown love to stay active and have fun at the same time. While utilizing the community center room where most of the adult programs are held, these residents participate in the growing number of programs offered. Such programs include Low Impact Aerobics, Healthy Bones, and Zumba.

Members also like leaving the building to participate in sports and other fitness activities. Our adult members enjoy such activities as walking or mini golf. As seen in these pictures, a favorite trip of these members is to go bowling.

The nostalgia of lacing up bowling shoes and hearing the “kaboom” of pins falling from a strike are the reasons most of these residents have been coming back every month. Not to mention the bowling center plays all the ‘hits’ dating back to the 50s, making sitting still between turns hard to do. Between bopping and grooving to the beats and laughing at the strikes (or gutter balls!) who knew keeping active could be so enjoyable? Our offsite bowling program is a prime example of keeping adults active in a social setting.

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So, ‘spare’ us any excuse as to why fitness cannot be fun! As our residents like to say… Let the Good Times Bowl!

Trenton “Springs” into Wellness at Union Baptist Church

New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids – Trenton attended the Union Baptist Church (UBC) “Spring into Wellness” Health Fair on Saturday, April 12, 2014.  It featured a panel discussion about how people can be healthy in every aspect of their life, with representatives from the Trenton Health Team, Capital Health, National Marrow Donor Program, Rite Aid, and a New Jersey state licensed psychologist/co-pastor of Grant Chapel A.M.E. Church.  The speakers touched on many topics relevant to our projects focus on physical activity and nutrition.  Union Baptist Church is one of the three faith-based organizations that volunteered to perform walking audits with us last year.  Not only did they participate in the audits, but they also signed a wellness policy for their organization.  We are so proud of UBC for hosting this health fair and making their wellness policy an integral part of the spiritual journey.

One of the panelists at the UBC event was Margaret Creevey, RN, BSN, MSN, AOCN; a gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer Nurse Navigator.  She spoke about colorectal cancer, and the precautions that can be taken to lower our risks of developing these life-threatening illnesses.  She told the audience that an important part of the prevention of GI cancers is, among other things, to maintain a healthy body weight through healthy eating and physical activity.  When asked if creating a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape would help increase physical activity levels, and as a result decrease the risk of colorectal cancer, Creevey said, “If we could have safe places to walk or ride a bike [at least 30 minutes a day], the better off people would be at preventing GI cancer.”
This information couldn’t have been shared with us at a better time – the City of Trenton is currently working on their Bike/Pedestrian plan, which will be incorporated into the new Master Plan.  With the City considering how they can make the streets safer for all travelers, and our soon to come streetscape improvements, Trenton residents will be able to get outside and get active!


“If we could have safe places to walk or ride a bike [at least 30 minutes a day], the better off people would be at preventing GI cancer.” 

Margaret Creevey, RN, BSN, MSN, AOCN speaking to the attendees of the UBC “Spring into Wellness”  Health Fair, about how they may be able to reduce the risks of colorectal cancer, some of the advice  including maintaining a healthy weight and getting 30 minutes of physical activity per day.