A Community Diagnosis of Well-Being

NJHI 2015: Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action Trenton Healthy Food Network - Growing a Healthier Trenton

When the time came to update Trenton’s community health needs assessment, we knew statistics couldn’t tell the real story.

Inspired by the Communities Moving to Action grant, Trenton Health Team (THT) engaged our community residents as partners in creating and realizing a shared vision for a healthy Trenton–and their voices became the heart of our 2019 Community Health Needs and Assets Assessment (CHNAA 2019). 

CHNAA 2019, written on behalf of Trenton residents, incorporates their thoughts, opinions, and concerns, as well as their appreciation and hopes regarding health and well-being. The result is a “community diagnosis” for our city. 

The assessment, a federal requirement for tax-exempt hospitals, identifies health needs that persist despite best efforts of many stakeholders, often due to social determinants beyond the reach of any one organization. 

Highlighting these “system” challenges underscores the need for coordination and collaboration as we begin drafting a Community Health Improvement Plan by sharing CHNAA 2019 findings and soliciting ideas from those who helped shape the report.

To capture resident voices, THT worked hand-in-hand with community and faith-based groups. Building on the success of our six Diabetes Listening Dinners, each drawing about 20 participants who either have diabetes or care for a loved one who does, THT hosted 10 community forums at social service agencies, including the city soup kitchen, housing authority, rescue mission, and senior living high-rise. During the forums, participants completed a health survey and discussed their responses as a group. 

Our survey was designed to be user-friendly, too. THT worked with 30 organizations to distribute questionnaires, which were deliberately short (one sheet of paper, double-sided),  written in English and Spanish, and at a sixth-grade reading level. Our efforts paid off with THT receiving 1,448 responses – almost triple the number of Trenton residents who responded for a similar countywide effort.

The CHNAA 2019 combines quantitative and qualitative data to provide a nuanced picture of our community’s health. The openness and generosity of spirit within this community inspire and motivate us to continue our collaborative efforts to build a culture of health and ensure equitable access to opportunities, resources, and the care for all who live here. Connect with our project director to stay up-to-date on our work.

The Grantee Blog regularly publishes updates from NJHI-supported communities. Bookmark this site to stay up-to-date and share in the work of building healthier communities across New Jersey.
Michelle Ruess
Trenton Health Team