Healthy Food Pantries Are Culture Changing
The second year of our grant cycle with the New Jersey Healthy Communities Network is off to a great start. Our first Healthy Food Pantry, at St Joe’s Social Services is experiencing a change in culture evidenced by the following:
- A Registered bilingual nurse is available 3 days a week to answer questions on clinical care and follow up on chronic disease concerns.
- Michael Johnson, YMCA Director of Strategic Initiatives works with Sarah (nurse) and is offering the Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program at the Pantry.
- Corey Wu-Jung, Shaping Elizabeth Registered Dietician holds monthly nutrition programs. Pat, St. Joe’s Social Worker stated “there was a group of people lining up at 9:30 am last Thursday and she asked the folks, What we can help you with? Why are you here so early? The response, “We are here for the nutrition workshop (which starts at 10).”
- Monthly food distributions have increased access to fresh vegetables and fruits
- Positive Messaging has been added on the new video screen.
- Our Physical Educator has returned and we began to plan how to bring physical activity to St. Joe’s as well as other locations.
Corey and I spoke with Pastor Britt and 2 pantry volunteers at Mt. Temen’s Church Food Pantry. Pastor Britt agreed to become our second Health Food Pantry and we made plans for Corey and me to visit the distribution on Feb. 21 and then create a survey to understand the needs of the patrons and develop the program.
We also met with the new director of the SNAP-Ed program at Community Food Bank of NJ and we are planning to have a presentation at our March coalition meeting to share information and connect with our partners.
Finally our Food Policy Committee met with Assemblywoman Quijano to discuss our Shaping Elizabeth goals and accomplishments as well as how we can work to together to reduce Food Insecurity and support the proposed NJ Anti-Hunger legislation.
It looks like 2019 is going to be a great year!
About the Grantee
Shaping Elizabeth promotes healthy eating and access to healthy foods.