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NJHCN Hosts Annual Community Grantee Meeting to Celebrate Progress

March 2, 2017 | Community News, Community News and Media, Statewide

NJ Commissioner of Health Cathleen Bennett addresses the crowd of grantee representatives during the NJHCN Year 2 Kickoff Meeting.

The New Jersey Healthy Communities Network (NJHCN) met on February 16th at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton to celebrate the past year’s successes and discuss plans for the future. The event was attended by nearly 120 individuals representing grantees and community partners from across the state. “Good health is crucial to our communities, and I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made over the past year,” said New Jersey YMCA State Alliance executive director Bill Lovett in his welcoming address.

Erin Bunger, a senior research assistant at Montclair State University, shared the 2016 evaluation. Some of the highlights included supporting 42 statewide communities, create 26 new healthy living opportunities, have 18 new stores participate in the Healthy Corner Store initiative, and 9,110 students statewide received a school breakfast during the last year.

Community grantees also heard remarks from New Jersey’s Commissioner of Health Cathleen Bennett. Commissioner Bennett expressed her gratitude for the hard work being done to help our New Jersey residents lead healthy lives. She noted that NJCHN is impactful because of the grantees and partners involved.

“We all see the community-wide impact Greenwood Ave. Farmers Market has had in bringing fresh produce and fitness to Trenton residents,” said Bennett “Their second year was incredibly successful.” Bennett also highlighted the wellness initiatives in Camden County and the success of their school nutrition programs.

Janet Heroux, healthy communities consultant for NJCHN, hosted a panel discussion on the importance of establishing and maintaining relationships with local government officials. Panel participants included Steve Jobin (Raritan Valley YMCA) Carla Bittner (National Park School District), and Serena Collado (RWJ University Hospital Somerset). Cooper’s Ferry and NJPHK-Camden’s Val Galarza co-hosted the second panel with Ashley Anglin from Atlantic Health that focused on the importance of leveraging resources for community projects. Galarza’s panel included Denise Brennan (Township of Hanover), Alane McCahey (The Gateway Family YMCA), and Kathy Skrobola (Lincoln Park Health Department).

NJHCN will continue to track the progress of its grantees and reconvene as a group on September 21, 2017. To find out more about the NJHCN, visit


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