Grantee Blog 2020

NJHCN Support for Two Towns goes a Long Way

At the inception of the New Jersey Health Communities Network (NJHCN) grant awarded to Healthier Somerset, the focus was solely on Alexander Batcho Intermediate School (ABIS) in Manville, NJ. The team’s goal was to establish a school garden and increase physical activity outside of physical education. Despite having the school’s support and partners committed to carrying out the grant activities, no one could have foreseen the dramatic impact COVID-19 would have on our communities.

COVID-19 delayed the start of the project and forced the team to rethink how they could successfully execute these initiatives. Everyone involved – ABIS, RWJUH Somerset, Rutgers Cooperative Extension and SNAP-Ed at Zufall Health – were creative in achieving grant goals given the school’s format had switched to virtual learning. Teamwork allowed these programs to not only get up and running, but to thrive. Rutgers Cooperative Extension worked with classrooms on nutrition education while growing produce with indoor AeroGardens, and SNAP-Ed at Zufall Health support the school in getting the CATCH program up and running. It was because of this success that we were able to grow the program in 2021.

At the start of the New Year, ABIS was fully involved in its NJHCN programming, and the team was now working to get nutrition education and school gardens up and running at Smalley School in Bound Brook. Once again, buy in from the school and the collaboration between all partners led to another strong program.

As we wrap up this grant cycle, we can proudly say that two schools, their students, faculty, and families are benefiting from the programs offered through NJHCN’s generosity. The foundation has been built to continue education and support these programs beyond the grant. As a result, these communities will benefit from this grant for years to come.

About the Grantee

Somerset Health Care Foundation

Healthier Somerset is a coalition created to improve the health and well-being of those who live and work in Somerset County. We promote healthy lifestyles through collaboration among 50 partner organizations representing thousands of Somerset County residents, businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations, public health officials, healthcare providers, government, and faith-based organizations.