Walking toward a healthier you

The grant cycle may be coming to an DSC_0314end but the life-changing habits formed continue on. We held a Kick-off Walk of our Fit-Trail system last weekend. Even through the raindrops we had participants using the system. The additions to the current walking path offer participants a full body workout while they make their way around the park. DSC_0325Hardyston Township did an amazing job installing the system throughout their Wheatsworth Park, which is now a featured park in Sussex County. For our Kick-off Walk we brought a trainer from the Y to help educate participants in proper technique as well as modifications for the different stations. Moms or dads waiting for their children at soccer/football practice, active adults meeting up or a quick workout during a lunch break. The flexibility of the system can suit all workout needs.

We have seen a lifestyle change in our CSA recipient families. When the fields were ready with fresh vegetables and produce our families were a bit apprehensive. They hadn’t ever seen Swiss chard, let alone know how to cook with it. The most they knew to do with a tomato was slice it but most were not big fans of the flavor. With the guidance from the Y and simple recipes to follow the families began learning how easy preparation could be with fresh produce. They have had an entire growing season to learn about different vegetables, mushrooms and other produce. The families find themselves shopping the outer aisles of the grocery store. Not afraid to pick up a fresh vegetable. They are now armed with the knowledge of preparation and the reward of eating healthy. HEART-FRUIT-AND-VEG-COMP_edit


Promoting Healthy Lifestyles

Salem County hosted its annual fair August 4-7. Our true county fair draws thousands of visitors over a four-day run. The Salem County fair is unique, its an agricultural fair with activities for everyone – pig scramble, dog show, skillet throwing contest, tractor pulls, horse show, 4H displays, best of show for fruits, veggies, and livestock. The fair is a showcase of what of our county is!


With the large number of visitors to the fair, we decided to target the crowd with a healthy lifestyle display. Our fair booth hosted free blood pressure screenings, apples, oranges, jump ropes, healthy cookbooks and educational information. The biggest hit of our booth was the “Eat This, Exercise That” and “Rethink Your Drink” displays.

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The “Eat This, Exercise That” display showed how in the past 20 years our portion sizes have grown and how much exercise it would take to burn off the calories. The kids were surprised that to burn off that chocolate chip cookie, they would have to wash a car for 1 hour and 20 minutes. The “Rethink Your Drink” display showed the sugar content of popular drinks.

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Free Apples and Oranges!

To reinforce the “Rethink your Drink” display, we had a sugar guessing game. Everyone was invited to guess how many teaspoons of sugar was in their drink.  The bags of sugar were a great hands on aid for the kids and parents to get a real visual of what they are drinking! Everyone was surprised by the amounts of sugar and walked away rethinking their drinks.

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Sierra Mist 29 grams of sugar = 7 teaspoons of sugar Brisk Ice Tea 20 grams of sugar = 5 teaspoons of sugar

The fair was a success!

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If you want to read more about our unique county fair, follow the link: http://www.nj.com/salem/index.ssf/2015/08/5_reasons_the_salem_county_fair_remains_such_a_pop.html


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.

P.L.A.A.Y. time with our community partners!

The P.L.A.A.Y. (Promoting Lifelong Activity among Adults and Youth) Shaping NJ Grant is pleased to have the following partners.  This blog post is a focus on our partners:

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  • Burlington County Health Department, Dr. Holly Funkhouser, Public Health Officer and Aditi Bothra, Community Health Educator. The health department plays vital role in the overall health of the community in Burlington County New Jersey. The C.H.I.P. (Community Health Improvement Plan) for Burlington County includes the P.L.A.A.Y grant. This partnership provides direct communication with the community and an avenue to produce positive community health outcomes and to promote a culture of Health.

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  • Willingboro Recreation & Parks Department, Kendall Brunson, Director and our home town hero. This department is committed to promoting health, wellness and fitness in Willingboro, New Jersey. The JF Kennedy Center located at 429 JF Kennedy Way houses a variety of wellness and fitness activities for the entire family. This partnership provides an opportunity to work and partner with city officials regarding the health and wellness of the community.


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  • Pi Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. The sorority is dedicated to community service and promoting wellness. The sorority’s 2014-2018 international focus is “Launching New Dimensions of Service℠ which includes 1. Educational Enrichment, 2. Health Promotion, 3. Family Strengthening, 4. Environmental Ownership and 5. Global Impact.” Pi Mu Omega chapter of AKA is active in the community and fulfilling the mission of the sorority. This partnership offers community involvement and a direct local connection with people that live in Burlington County.

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  • G3 Health & Fitness, Cynthia Carpenter and Victoria Goyins. G3 offers a youth fit club for boys and girls 8 to 12 years old. This program includes fitness, fun and an opportunity to try new foods. The motto is “Get Moving, Get Knowledge, Get Healthy & Strong”. G3 programs are offered at the JF Kennedy Center in Willingboro, New Jersey. This partnership offers a direct connection with youth and families that live and play in Burlington County.

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  • Chef Delilah Winder and Chef Dante Foggy – Both chefs are Food Network Champions and Winners! The chefs are an asset to our nutrition component of the grant. The chefs help us to reach people of all ages and provide expert food knowledge on how to create delicious healthy food without added sugar, salt or fat. During our cooking demonstrations participants learn how to turn avocados in to chocolate pudding, fresh fruit in to cool smoothies and beans in to a easy to make hummus.

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Launching Healthier Somerset’s Nutrition Seminars!

Summer is here, and the Healthier Somerset ShapingNJ team is harvesting the fruit that’s grown from the seeds sown during the months of planning!  We have presented three nutrition seminars, and the remaining two are scheduled for July 16 and July 20.

EmPoWER Somerset and Zufall Health Centers partnered with NJ SNAP to plan and implement the seminars, which focused on summer salad and smoothie recipes.






These photos are from our second nutrition seminar, held June 25 at the Ben Maggio Center in Bound Brook. Nineteen adults and six children attended. We distributed 16 farmer’s market vouchers, one for each of the family units present. The seminar was so well received that the Center invited us to come back and do an additional presentation there.

Along the way, we’ve become more efficient at preparing for and presenting the programs. Since all of the food used is fresh, shopping and food prep must be done only hours before the program is presented. Since the food is perishable, it must be consumed or distributed, rather than kept for the next program.

We’ve also been able to tie the nutrition and transportation components together nicely.  At the end of the nutrition component of the seminar, our partner from RideWise gave a short presentation about the county buses and transportation in the area. RideWise distributed a bus ticket to each family unit, and we hope to purchase more tickets with remaining ShapingNJ grant funds to distribute at the remaining seminars.

More good news is that the borough of Bound Brook has adopted a “Complete Streets” policy!  This makes them the sixth Somerset County municipality to pass a resolution of support for the program, and the 119th municipality/county to pass a resolution in New Jersey. They will now receive bike racks, which we hope to have installed by the end of August. Hopefully this will encourage our two remaining municipalities to take similar action!