Making StridesAt Mt. Teman’s Blessed Fest on September 28, many throughout the city of Elizabeth volunteered to help those less fortunate. Despite the name it is not a religious event. The name refers more to the atmosphere of the day. The beautiful weather matched the feeling those serving and those being served felt. Medical screenings, information about reentry and mental health resources, fresh produce, non-perishable food, personal care products, and a hot meal were offered to anyone in need. Volunteers from teen clubs, senior groups, elected officials, local businesses, and community organizations all leant a hand serving approximately 300 people. While Shaping Elizabeth members made a concerted effort to provide fruits and vegetables for participants to take home and eat as part of the meal served, this is a once yearly event. We continue to work with our second Healthy Food Pantry at Mt. Teman AME Church on a monthly basis. Participants are receiving simple recipes and bag inserts with messaging encouraging the intake of more fruit, vegetables and whole grains. We are working with local groups to provide more fresh produce to the pantry. The supply is not always consistent, but clients are very appreciative. Additional sources are being investigated. We have had an initial conversation with a local farm about supplying some produce. When we surveyed participants in the Spring, over 36% said they would like to receive nutrition information via their phone. Our NJHNC coach helped connect us with a fellow grantee from Center for Prevention and Counseling who uses various apps with their worksite wellness program. After some investigation and a few hiccups, we are just about ready to pilot a messaging app. We are excited about the prospects ahead.
About the Grantee
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.