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Families Activas y Saludables/Families Active and Healthy (FAH)

How to create a culture of healthy eating amid populations identified as high-risk for nutrition-related chronic diseases? PROCEED’s vision for Families Activas y Saludables/Families Active and Healthy rests on a multi-dimensional approach aimed at creating a culture of health/wellness among Latinos, African-Americans , and Haitian families residing in Elizabeth. It requires influencing cultural norms and large-scale behavior change among the target population, embracing a multi-generational approach to change by offering every family/community member the opportunity to participate in their overall well-being. For PROCEED, the strategy rested on creating a school fruit and vegetable garden within the Early Childhood Development Center 1 and the Family Success Center with the aim of spreading awareness of healthy eating, food choices, and growing food. It was easier said than done. Too many families are used to seeing vegetables and fruits in the supermarket aisles, the idea of actually growing food for consumption was a far cry.

We targeted the youngest members of families-the preschool kids-and incorporated growing a vegetable garden into their early childhood annual project. We read books on things that grow, seeding, preparing soil, watering, harvesting to build their interest in growing a garden. We partnered with Union County 4-H that has the history and expertise on working with community agencies in building a vegetable garden. Thankfully, we had the man-power to start the garden by counting on youths from community who were doing a project at the Family Success Center. Union County’ 4-H agent provided the expertise by helping select the best spot in the agency for the garden, types of containers and soil to buy, plants to select, watering schedule, fertilizing, and monitoring plan growth. The first vegetable that we planted were lettuces-the kids had a great time in harvesting and eating them. The garden is a work in progress.

The program is supported by funding from Atlantic Health System as part of the New Jersey Healthy Communities Network.

About the Grantee

PROCEED Inc.

The mission of PROCEED, INC. is to provide and connect people to educational, health and human services; and enhance the capacity of other organizations to offer quality program and services to their communities.