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Broadway Market: A Refreshing Oasis in a Food Desert Helps Long Branch Residents Make Healthier Choices

Promoting healthy eating is a challenge in an area that’s both a food desert and food swamp.  While a food desert has limited access to fresh produce, many areas are food swamps because they have an excess of unhealthy fast food establishments. In fact, the block on Broadway where our Shaping Long Branch coalition meets also shares space with the Office of Community & Economic Development, Chamber of Commerce, two cell phone stores, a bodega, fried chicken shop, Chinese take-out, and McDonalds. Less than a mile away are apartments, older single family homes, public housing, and six large public schools. Consequently, we’re focusing efforts there to reach children and build healthier eating habits.

Thankfully Broadway Market joined our Healthy Corner Store Initiative and sells a large variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and healthier snacks. Think of almost any type of produce… and Broadway Market now sells it thanks to financial incentives to add more produce from EZ Ride’s funder, the NJ Department of Health, along with the NJ Healthy Corner Store Initiative.  Above the store’s cold case is a beautiful new sign we made that says “Eat Healthy, Live Longer. Viva Mas!”

On May 15th, members of our Shaping Long Branch team from EZ Ride and Monmouth Medical Center-RWJ Barnabas joined forces with the store to provide healthier snacks and free health screening.  Our first challenge was being outside on a humid “90 degree” day. Our second challenge was discovering an hour before the event that the store only had four fruit cups. We stayed calm and rolled up our sleeves. Matt and Victoria from EZ Ride stayed outside with Nurse Linda to setup and talk to passersby; meanwhile Lisa rushed to help Tony, an employee, cut fruit in the 100 degree kitchen area! We bonded over chopping boards and quickly peeled, sliced, and filled 81 large fresh fruit cups in 90 minutes.

More than 40 students flocked to the store after school with parents and siblings to get free fruit cups or fresh produce and ice cold water. As a team, we gave out 91 coupons, which customers redeemed for 85 fruit cups, 65 water bottles, bananas, and pears. Twenty people entered a free raffle to win a basket filled with produce, healthy food from the store, and fitness items. Over 100 samples of fresh cut oranges and pretzel crisps were also given away.  Twenty-four adults got screened for blood pressure, and twenty people took home healthy recipe cards provided by the Food Trust and Healthy Corner Store Initiative. Our table featured flyers about reducing sodium, the cons of sugary drinks, and tips to eat healthier on a budget.

Lessons learned:

Special thanks to Jose and Orinales Taveres, owners of Broadway Market, Jean McKinney from Monmouth Medical Center, Robert Goodman and Jake Jones from the City, Sid Johnson of the Health Department, Danna Kawut of Program/Special Events, Tonya Garcia from the Public Library, and Kim Hyde and the PE teachers from LB Schools for encouraging students to attend.

 

About the Grantee

EZ Ride

EZ Ride is a non-profit, public-private partnership with a mission to implement transportation programs and services that enhance the quality of life, mobility, and economic opportunity for people and businesses, while reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality. The Bicycle & Pedestrian Programs team helps communities promote health, safety, walking and biking.