In a number of communities across the state of New Jersey, residents are improving their health – right in their corner store. One example is Edward Logan Jr., a Camden resident who began participating in The Food Trust’s Heart Smarts program at his neighborhood store, Ferry Avenue Market. After attending eight monthly lessons and continuing to make healthy choices once the lesson series had ended, Edward – who had uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes –began taking control of his health. Since 2014, he’s lost 40 pounds, and his A1C levels (measurement of how much sure is attached to the blood’s hemoglobin protein) have decreased from 12.7% (significantly higher than normal levels of 5.7% or below) to 5.2%.
The Heart Smarts program is part of the New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative and brings free nutrition lessons and free health screenings (blood pressure, BMI, stroke and heart disease assessments) right to community corner stores.
During the month of April, New Jersey residents in Camden, Newark, Plainfield, Perth Amboy, Trenton and Vineland will benefit from nutrition lessons and health services at designated local corner stores—thanks to a joint effort between the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids (NJPHK), The Food Trust, and local health partners.
As part of the program, residents also will be eligible to receive up to $4 in Heart Bucks coupons that can be redeemed for heart-healthy items in the stores, as well as other incentives and information to encourage healthy eating.
Below are the dates and locations for the statewide Healthy Corner Store Heart Smarts events:
Newark: April 11th from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Freeway Deli Market (301 Osborne Terrace, Newark NJ, 07112)
Healthcare partner: RWJ Barnabas
Lead: The Food Trust & NJPHK
Trenton: April 18th from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm: New Way Deli Market (617 MLK Jr. Blvd, Trenton, NJ 08618)
Healthcare partner: Capitol Health Medical Center
Lead: The Food Trust & NJPHK
Plainfield: April 18th 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm: Rudilcia Supermarket (846 E 2nd St, Plainfield, NJ, 07062)
Healthcare partner: Atlantic Health System
Lead: EZ Ride
Asbury Park: April 19th 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm: Sheffields (1106 Bangs Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712)
Healthcare partner: Hackensack Meridian Health
Lead: EZ Ride
Camden: April 25th 10:00 am – 12:00 pm: New Village Supermarket (1024 Carl Miller Blvd, Camden, NJ 08104)
Healthcare partner: Camden County Department of Health and Human Services
Lead: The Food Trust
Vineland: April 27th 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm: Vasquez and Diaz Market (437 W. Park Ave., Vineland, NJ)
Healthcare partner: Complete Care, Inc.
Lead: Vineland Department of Health/Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA
The New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Local initiatives are also being supported by corporate partners such as Campbell Soup Company and the PSE&G Foundation in Camden, the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey in Newark, and Novo Nordisk Inc. in Trenton.
“Our goal is to improve access to healthy, affordable foods in underserved communities,” said Jonathan R. Pearson, Executive Director & Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. “We are pleased to support The Food Trust’s Heart Smarts program and its efforts to empower community residents to improve their health and reduce their risk of diet-related disease through nutrition education and counseling in a supportive store environment.”
The Heart Smarts program, which was first piloted in Philadelphia in 2010, was launched in New Jersey in 2011 at 10 corner store locations in Camden and has since expanded across the state.
“More than 1,300 residents took advantage of this innovative health program in Camden last year and our hope is to reach more residents this year,” stated Kim Fortunato, Director – Community Affairs; President – Campbell Soup Foundation.
“We’ve long been committed to encouraging healthy lifestyles in the communities where we live and work, and we’re proud to co-sponsor such an important community health program that encourages healthy lifestyle choices and helps people overcome barriers to positive living they may be facing,” says Diana Blankman, senior director, U.S. Corporate Sustainability & Social Impact, Novo Nordisk Inc.