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New Brunswick Welcomes Second Ciclovia of the Year

cicloviaOn Sunday, June 14, 2015 the residents of New Brunswick came together once again for the second Ciclovia event of the year. This free event, sponsored by New Brunswick Tomorrow, the City of New Brunswick, Johnson & Johnson and Rutgers University, closed the city streets from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. so that residents and visitors could participate in over a dozen activities spanning over a three mile route. The purpose of Ciclovia is to promote a community of health and wellbeing through a multitude of physical activities and health awareness initiatives. Healthy activities included group fitness classes, a pop-up skate park, an inflatable water slide, a splash zone to cool down, live music, health screenings and more. Attendees were encouraged to visit and participate in each activity – making their way by walking, running, biking or skating along the course.

Ciclovias originated in Bogotá, Colombia and have since emerged throughout the world to champion for a healthier lifestyle for all. The New Brunswick Ciclovia has been going strong since its inception in 2013 and shows no sign of slowing down with thousands attending the event throughout the year. The next New Brunswick Ciclovia will take place on October 4, 2015. To learn more about Ciclovia visit www.NewBrunswickCiclovia.com.

Meet David Calderetti, Project Manager NJPHK-Vineland

David CalderettiBicycling is a big part of David Calderetti’s life and he hopes to make Vineland a more bicycle-friendly environment as part of his work as project manager of New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Vineland (NJPHK-V) and director of Live Healthy Vineland.

Calderetti joined Live Healthy Vineland and NJPHK-V in January 2015. He came to the Partnership with a firm appreciation for the healthy living transition taking place in Vineland.

As a Safe Routes to School coordinator for Cross County Connection, he assisted Lisa Scheetz and the Partnership in the acquisition of the $270,000 Safe Routes to School Infrastructure grant that will improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities near Sabater Elementary school in Vineland. That experience introduced him to NJPHK and when the project manager position opened up, it provided a perfect opportunity.

Looking ahead, Calderetti envisions introducing multi-model transportation in Vineland by educating and encouraging residents on how to incorporate active living into their everyday lives. “Many people do not see bicycling as a viable option,” he says. “Bicycling allows a person to travel longer distances in less time. Many individuals may not utilize public transit because of the distance of bus stops to their home. The hope is that by educating residents about utilizing available bicycle facilities, it will increase the likelihood of traveling to bus stops to get to jobs, doctors’ visits, etc.”

But for the present, Calderetti’s plate is currently full with many Live Healthy Vineland and NJPHK-V initiatives from the summer Park Hop Series and Healthy Worksites to building a healthy food network with corner stores, food pantries and restaurants. He’ll also be partnering with the City of Vineland engineers to create travel plans for each school. The plans will identify challenges in the built environment that inhibit safe travel. Then he will work with the Partnership to find funding to implement solutions.

Calderetti grew up in South Philadelphia and later moved to New Jersey. He was an avid skateboarder who discovered the pleasures of bicycling when he commuted by bike to Stockton University. Upon graduation from Stockton, this Communications major took charge of a seven-county territory at Cross Country Connection. He helped municipalities obtain infrastructure grants to build bike and pedestrian facilities around elementary and middle schools.

Through his work, he developed the philosophy that for every obstacle, there’s a remedy. Now he will be applying that belief on a larger scale as he helps to remove the barriers to wellness and active living in Vineland.

Hunterdon County YMCA Distributes Free Healthy Food

Huntingdon YMcAEach week the Hunterdon County YMCA is improving the lives of the residents it serves by providing fresh produce and bread through their Free Produce and Bread Distribution program. Volunteers from the Hunterdon County YMCA and America’s Grow a Row gather every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Flemington Baptist Church located at 170 Main Street in Flemington to distribute the food from either the church’s parking lot or basement. The food is provided on a donation basis through America’s Grow a Row, Panera Bread and Shoprite.

The program reaches approximately 90 families each year and an average of 40 families each week. “We feel incredibly fortunate to be able to bring fresh, local food to our community through the Free Produce and Bread Distribution program. Through our partnership with America’s Grow a Row, Panera Bread and Shoprite we are able to fulfill an essential need in the Hunterdon County area,” said Kristen Heimall, Hunterdon YMCA senior program director.

“The work that the Hunterdon County YMCA is doing to provide a free healthy food distribution program is a testament to their commitment to the betterment of their community and we, at New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids, are proud to align ourselves with a program that parallels our mission to increase access to high-quality, affordable food to New Jersey communities,” said Darrin Anderson, deputy director of NJPHK.

For more information about the Free Produce and Bread Distribution program contact Kristen Heimall.

Asbury Park Elementary Schools Recognized for Walking and Biking Promotion

Monmouth CountyAsbury Park’s three elementary schools received a Silver Award from Safe Routes to School/EZ-Ride/Meadowlink in recognition of their walk and bike to school campaigns. The School Health Councils in Asbury Park sponsor regular walking and biking events as part of their ongoing efforts to build awareness and momentum for living a healthy and active life.

Thurgood Marshall Elementary holds a Walk to School Day every month to celebrate the students’ daily trek and bring something special to the journey. Bradley Elementary and the Barack Obama School launched Walk to School Day this year and will plan more come September. Thurgood Marshall and Barack Obama Elementary also held bike rodeos this year. The School Health Councils sponsor the events and the principals and staff, joined by parents and students, make them happen.

The Fitness Stations and Bike Rodeo event at Thurgood Marshall on May 29 brought the community together “in a wonderful way to help students and parents learn about and practice daily fitness for long term health,” said Lisa Lee, Field Representative in Disease Control for Monmouth County Health Department.

Something was happening in every corner of the gymnasium: kids were running, jumping and moving at three gym stations. Others—including some moms—jumped rope and did double dutch. Hopscotch, the Meridian Health Movin’ & Groovin’ mascot, led stretching and exercise routines while team relays worked out with basketballs and hula hoops. It was contained commotion and lots of fun.

Second Life Bikes of Asbury Park was on hand to help repair students’ bikes and pump up many flat tires. All students received new bike helmets for free courtesy of EZ-Ride/Meadowlink which administers the local Safe Routes to School program.

The bike rodeo included three courses where students learned signaling, stopping, merging and road safety rules.

The emphasis was not on activity alone as parents went home with information provided by Monmouth County Health Department about the importance of family meals, ways to include fruits and veggies in meals, ideas for child-friendly snacks and facts on the connection between health and doing well in school.

In addition, students, siblings and School Health Council team members and partners received healthy snacks compliments of Sodexo, ending the day with a very sweet surprise.

Vineland Residents Take Back the Parks

VIneland park hop 2Vineland’s summer Park Hop Series kicked off June 29 and will continue through August 6. Designed to bring residents into city parks over the summer, Park Hop will present activities throughout Vineland in parks that often are underutilized.

“Each day, an event will take place at a different park,” explained David Calderetti, project manager of New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Vineland (NJPHK-V). A Vineland resident can start off the week with sunrise yoga, join a lunchtime walk on Tuesday or Wednesday, catch a game of soccer on Wednesday evening and make new friends while playing Ultimate Frisbee on Thursdays.

“We want to showcase a range of creative active play and games–like yoga or Ultimate Frisbee–that don’t require special equipment. You can just show up, get active and have a lot of fun,” said Calderetti.

The vital aim is to help residents reclaim the parks and use them regularly beyond the summer for active and fun pursuits. “We hope Park Hop will provide the initial momentum and will encourage residents to grab the baton and keep activities going on their own once the series ends,” Calderetti said.

Park Hop is sponsored by Live Healthy Vineland and represents collaboration among the Vineland Health Department, the Cumberland Cape County YMCA, and NJPHK-V.

A sampling of Park Hop activities include:

  • Sunrise yoga: 7:30 a.m. Mondays. Giampietro Park, 3231 E. Landis Avenue.
  • Family volleyball: 6 p.m. Mondays, South Vineland Park, 429 W. Elmer Road.
  • Lunchtime walk: Noon Tuesdays/Thursdays, Landis Park, 600 E. Park Avenue.
  • Soccer: 6 p.m. Wednesdays, Gittone Park, East Oak Road and Becker Drive.
  • Ultimate Frisbee, Magnolia Park, 2245 E. Magnolia Road.

Residents Live Well this Summer with the Start of the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market

NB Farmers Market 1A spirit of health and well-being is alive and well in New Brunswick this summer with the return of the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market. The market, a project in partnership with the City of New Brunswick, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, and Johnson & Johnson, now has a bigger presence than ever with three locations throughout the city, each opening on a different day during the week. All three locations are open from June through November and had their official grand opening the week of June 14, 2015.

The farmers market brings fresh, local and healthy food directly to the residents of New Brunswick and supports the city’s mission to give them access to nutritious food on a consistent basis while also supporting local farms. “We are so encouraged to see our community embrace the farmers market and have direct access to local, health food options. It is programs like this that support our mission to create a culture of health throughout the city and combat obesity,” said Jaymie Santiago, NJPHK – NB partnership coordinator & director of operations of New Brunswick Tomorrow.

The farmers market is just one of the many programs the City of New Brunswick is backing in an effort to improve the lives of its residents. Through the start of Live Well-Vivir Bien New Brunswick, a city-wide campaign with a mission to encourage residents to take ownership of their health and well-being by utilizing local health resources, the City of New Brunswick, Johnson & Johnson, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and New Brunswick Tomorrow have come together to create a means to do just that and make a significant impact in the community. “Spreading the Live Well-Vivir Bien message through outlets like the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market is just the beginning. It is an exciting time to be living in New Brunswick and we are ready to “live well” with the residents we serve,” said Monica Reyes, Manager of Communications and Development with New Brunswick Tomorrow.

The New Brunswick Community Farmers Market is part of the Farmers Market Coalition, a national network that promotes farmers market awareness and Farmers Market Week. This year Farmers Market Week will take place the week of August 2, 2015. For more information about the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market visit www.nbcfarmersmarket.com.

July is National Park and Recreation Month

Park-and-Rec-Month-2015Since 1985, America has celebrated July as the nation’s official Parks and Recreation Month. Created by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), Park and Recreation Month specifically highlights the vital and powerful role local parks and recreation play in health and wellness, and social equity efforts in communities all across the country.

In celebration of Parks and Recreation Month, New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids is encouraging everyone to get out and experience the power of parks and recreation.

“July is the perfect time to highlight all the benefits parks and recreation provides right here in New Jersey,” said Darrin Anderson, deputy director, NJPHK. “Our local parks and recreation directly contributes to reduced obesity rates and an improved ecosystem.”

NJPHK is leading initiatives and providing opportunities for families to achieve healthier lifestyles by renovating parks and playgrounds in Camden, Newark, New Brunswick, Trenton, Vineland, as well as providing support to a number of other locations across the state.

NJ State Senator Ron Rice Tours Lucky Fox Market

Learns How Corner Stores Can Help Families Make Healthy Food Choices

ricestoryTouring Newark’s Lucky Fox market on May 5, State Senator Ron Rice saw firsthand how the Healthy Corner Store Initiative helps merchants to profitably stock, sell and bring healthy, affordable food options to residents.

“Senator Rice is aware of the issues with the food desert environment in Newark. He was glad to see that stores are tackling the problem,” said Courtney Price, New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Newark (NJPHK-N) project manager who accompanied the Senator on his visit, along with representatives from the American Heart Association and The Food Trust.

Lucky Fox Market (164 Irvine Turner Boulevard, Newark Central Ward) is one of four corner stores in Newark that have signed on to the Healthy Corner Store Initiative. The New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative is a statewide program focused on increasing the availability and sale of healthy, affordable food in local stores and bodegas in communities that are underserved by supermarkets. Before joining the Initiative, store owner Salvatore Rodriguez renovated his store adding a deli and produce refrigerator, new lighting and flooring. The store is within walking distance to Central High School, which houses a school-based health clinic operated by Jewish Renaissance Medical Center. The store serves residents, students, and health clinic patients—prime traffic for the expanded fresh produce and other healthy food options.

“Healthy corner stores like Lucky Fox are making healthy choices easier and more affordable for Newark’s kids and families. That’s a critical step for addressing obesity in our city,” said Price.

To qualify, corner stores display sanctioned marketing materials —including recipe cards —to indicate healthy food options; introduce at least four new healthy food products from two different food groups; and agree to periodic progress assessment visits. In turn, the stores are eligible for training and technical assistance that enable them to profitably stock and sell the new, healthy food items, as well as advertising, marketing, and promotional materials to attract new customers.

NJPHK-N co-director Michael C. Bright emphasized the importance of this effort: “Children need healthy food options to grow and thrive. We are proud to co-lead this NJ Partnership effort to expand nutritious food choices for Newark families.”

Greenwood Avenue Farmers Market Brings Unique Combination of Healthy Food and Health Services to Residents of Trenton

greenwoodave2The Greenwood Avenue Farmers Market, located at 427 Greenwood Avenue, celebrated its grand opening on Monday, June 15, with great fanfare as more than 100 people, including local and state dignitaries, supporters, partners, vendors, health service providers and residents of Trenton came out for an afternoon and evening of food, fun and health-related activities.

“The Greenwood Avenue Farmers Market is another great milestone for NJPHK and the city of Trenton,” said Marissa Davis, New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids project manager. “Nearly half of Trenton’s youth between ages 3 to 18 are either overweight or obese and providing easy access to healthy foods, health services, physical activities, food tastings and education is critical to making a positive difference in their health and well-being, now and in the future.”

The farmers market will open every Monday, from June 15 to October 26, 2015 from 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Each Monday the market will feature Jersey Fresh produce, tropical fruits, meat, eggs and baked goods, as well as health screenings, nutrition education, physical activities and live music. Featured vendors and service providers include: Isles (Urban Farms), Norz Hill Farm, Food Bazaar, Franca’s Bakery, Henry J. Austin Health Center, St. Francis Medical Center, FRN Health Insurance Navigator Program, City of Trenton Impact Van, YMCA of Trenton, Trenton Health Team, and Rutgers Cooperative Extension – SNAP-ED and Family and Community Health Services (FCHS).

During the festivities of opening day, local Trenton resident, Salve Bemen, told 6ABC News reporter Nora Muchanic, “It’s good for me because it’s not far from where I live, because I have (a) disability.”

Caitlin Galli of Norz Hill Farms noted that the market provides an opportunity to speak with customers about the fresh fruits and vegetables. “We can tell them exactly where the food comes from and how to use it, and provide them with recipes and tips.”

Children are already taking notice and seeking out their favorite fruits and vegetables. Galli noted that, “A child came up to me and said her favorite vegetable was broccoli; I was so happy to hear that and happy that we had some for her mom to buy.” She also shared that another child pointed to a head of cabbage and asked “Is that what cabbage looks like?”

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Mercer County also does its part to make an immediate impact with food tastings. “We contact several of the vendors early in the week to find out what they will be selling so we can include one or two items of those items in our tastings samples,” said Michelle Brill, MPH, Family & Community Health Sciences Educator. Brill says this makes it easier for people to buy fruits or vegetables they just tasted so they can make it at home with the printed recipe sheet that is provided.

“We were thrilled with opening day and look forward to continued momentum as more residents learn about the market and join us on Mondays for this healthy, community effort,” said Marissa Davis, NJHPK.

The farmers market is made possible by support from the New Jersey Department of Health, New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids (NJPHK), the Hunterdon and Mercer County Regional Chronic Disease Coalition, and Mrs. G.  It is also in partnership with the City of Trenton, YMCA of Trenton, the Trenton Healthy Food Network and Nexus Properties.

Program Urges Local Grocers to Sell Healthier Foods

Vineland downtown deli 1Originally published in The Press of Atlantic City, Thomas Barlas-Staff Writer

The baskets of apples, oranges and bananas are in plain sight for customers entering the Downtown Grocery and Deli on Wood Street.

The location is perfect for enticing store customers to buy a healthy piece of fruit instead of an unhealthy snack, said Sara Paciocco, of the city’s Health Department.

“It’s more available now that it’s in the open,” Paciocco said, adding she hopes more of the city’s mom-and-pop stores make the same kind of change.

The Downtown Grocery and Deli is one of five local groceries participating in the New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative. The program urges those stores to sell more fruit, fresh vegetables and other products lower in salt, sodium and fat. Officials with various health-related organizations visited the store Wednesday to help launch the program, which is also operating in Camden, Trenton, Newark and New Brunswick.

While the program is geared toward all city residents, health officials say targeting the corner grocery stores is especially important for helping youths make healthier eating choices.

Studies show youths living in neighborhoods with those stores consume about 350 more calories each day, said Lisa Scheetz, operations director for the local YMCA, which is helping to coordinate the program. Those extra calories aren’t coming from healthy foods, she said.

Health officials said the program is especially important for Cumberland County, which annually ranks as the least-healthy county in New Jersey. Part of the reason is the inability of residents in the city’s urban centers to get fresh fruit and vegetables, they said.

Vineland, Bridgeton and Millville in Cumberland County are among 134 “food deserts,” or municipalities with poor access to healthy foods, in New Jersey. About 340,000 New Jersey residents live in those food deserts.

Downtown Grocery and Deli was the first store in the city to sign up for the program, said Emma Lopez, health educator with the city’s Health Department. Store owner Dolores Rodriguez allowed health officials to use her store to take surveys of customer needs and let customers sample healthier foods, she said.

Rodriguez’s son, Adniel Carlos Rodriguez, said his family wants to help encourage a healthier lifestyle in the city. That’s not always easy, especially for children, who often stop in the store just to buy candy, he said.

“People aren’t used to buying new things,” he said.

One of the healthier items they may be buying is a parfait treat developed at Rutgers University’s Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton. The center helps local entrepreneurs develop different kinds of food products.

Development of the parfait — yogurt with blueberries, cranberries and granola — began several years ago, said Diane Holtaway, the center’s associate director of food services. The parfait has scored well in taste tests, many of which were held at schools, she said. It should be ready for wholesale distribution soon.

Paciocco is one of two city Health Department employees who will work with local grocery stores to stock those healthier foods, Lopez said. The overall goal is to have about 25 stores enrolled in the program by September, she said.

Once that’s done, Lopez said she plans to bring in local farmers to work with the grocery stores. Cumberland County is one of the state’s agricultural centers, and it’s important for local farmers and shopkeepers to work together, she said.

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