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Grantee Blog

“Shaping Long Branch & Making it Más Saludable (More Healthy)”

EZ Ride partnered with the Long Branch Free Public Library to participate in Latino Fest on Saturday, September 8th from 1pm to 5pm outside the library at 328 Broadway in Long Branch.

“EZ Ride’s Healthy Snacks initiative provides our community with easy access to healthy foods and therefore has improved the City of Long Branch. The Latino Fest is in it’s eighth year. The festival is a library program in observance of Hispanic Heritage month. It used to be called the “Fiesta”. When I became the coordinator, I decided to rename it “Latino Fest”. The new name makes it more inclusive; in particular, for the Brazilian community, since they do not identify as Hispanic. My “why,” when it comes to the Latino Fest, is to honor and celebrate our diverse Latino community here in Long Branch. It is a day to offer our patrons inclusion. It is also a day for local Long Branch residents to eat and dance, in accordance with our Latino culture. The Latino Fest is a family event. We offer haircuts, face painting, games with prizes, entertainment, food, and light refreshments for children. We offer this all for free except for whatever the food vendors charge for their food. This year we purchased backpacks with school supplies and gave them out to over 50 children. The Latino Fest is a valuable community outreach program that improves our community and simply makes Long Branch a great place to live. ”

~David Perez, Social Work & Diversity Services Manager, Long Branch Free Public Library

At the invitation of David Perez, we decided to setup a table to promote healthy eating. Victoria from EZ Ride’s Bike & Ped team and her mother Myriam represented us as Victoria and her mom are Venezuelan and both speak Spanish. We used the HCN grant to provide healthy snacks and drink samples for the community. Our table was next to Monmouth Medical Center who also had a nutrition display and we were excited to see live musical and dance performances by “Bomba Yo” of the Bronx and “Capoeira Sol Nascente” of Long Branch.

“EZ Ride’s initiatives provide the community with opportunities to access healthy foods in their local stores and information on how to grow the wellness in our lives and the community as a whole. Although I work in Long Branch, I live in Asbury Park and it makes such a difference when I walk into a corner store and can see healthier options for the community to choose from. This type of advocacy is essential to the overall health and wellness of our communities.”

~Jahmoia Rice-Norlfett, Volunteer & Community Outreach Coordinator, Coastal Communities Family Success Center

People of all ages came and tried our delicious healthy snacks including mango salsa and multi-grain tortilla chips. We also sampled a low sugar hibiscus iced tea. There was a large turnout of people – 750 attendees – at Latino Fest and our healthy snack table was such a success that 49 people entered the raffle! We also gave out bilingual healthy eating information, recipes, and nutritional information handouts. Specifically, we gave out 17 Spanish recipe packets, which equals 170 recipe cards. We provided 101 samples of mango salsa, 147 samples of multigrain tortilla chips, and 144 samples of not-so-sweet cranberry hibiscus iced tea.

“Your snack table at Latinofest…seemed quite popular and busy.  It seemed like a great outreach and a very worthwhile project.”

~ Lisa Kelly,  Publicity & Outreach Manager, Long Branch Free Public Library

It was a busy, exciting, and fun event and definitely strengthen our relationship with the Long Branch community and let them know about the investment being made in helping them become “Más Saludable” from our funder, the NJ Department of Health.

For more info about our work at Latino Fest, please contact Victoria Alizo at 201-939-4242 or valizo@ezride.org.

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 quality of life, regional mobility and economic opportunity while reducing traffic congestion & air pollution. The Bike & Ped team offers Safe Routes to School (SRTS) services and works to build safe and healthy communities.