Grantee Blog


Shaping Elizabeth strives to connect with our community where they live, shop, gather and feel safe.  Focusing on supporting people who are Food Insecure leading to health related issues including diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

Over 16-18% of families in Elizabeth are food insecure and they supplement their monthly food supply through Food Pantries. Over 68% of the families are Hispanic/Latino. Shaping Elizabeth has been coordinating with Food Pantry Providers and the Community Food Bank of NJ to encourage healthy eating through changes to food options provided, education, information and support.  St. Joseph’s Social Service Food Pantry is our pilot Health Food Pantry.

Since February 2018 our Shaping Elizabeth Nutritionist Corey Wu-Jung and Jennifer Reyes (bilingual) have been working with Pat Fettweis, St. Joe’s Social Worker to coordinate improved healthy messaging including posters and monthly bag inserts encouraging increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.  Jenn has offered three nutrition education programs 166 people have attended.  Jenn has developed a great relationship with the people at the food pantry and she has heard that there is a strong desire to be healthier.  People feel unsupported in many of the traditional clinical care settings due to language, timing (people are working several part time jobs) and lack of quality follow up with professionals.  It is our goal to bring additional support right at the Food Pantry.

This past week over 40 people showed up to hear about our new Group Lifestyle Balance program for people who are pre-diabetic.  Many people already have diabetes.  We are going to adapt the program to their needs and offer classes in English and Spanish for the next 12 weeks.  We hope to improve their health through 5% weight loss with improved healthy eating habits. In addition we found many people have hypertension so Mike Johnson from The Gateway Family YMCA will be providing a Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program.

Success will be measured with pre-post surveys, attendance and results.

Meeting people where they are and layering interventions while listening to their needs this is the Shaping Elizabeth Change Model.



About the Grantee

The Gateway Family YMCA

Shaping Elizabeth (SE) is a team of community members committed to improving the health and well-being of the residents of the City of Elizabeth by creating sustainable changes to systems, policies and the environment, by proposing and implementing strategies to close the health equity gap and support improved health, nutrition and physical activity for all.