Ecosystems & Opportunity

NJHI 2020: Small Communities Forging Hyperlocal Data Collaboratives Burlington City Food Access Network


Our challenge as a Dream Team has been galvanizing all of the key stakeholders and community members of Burlington City. 

Currently, like in so many other communities, there are major issues with food security, youth unemployment, and services for families. These claims are substantiated through both our observations as a community hub in Burlington City and the review of both macro and micro-level data provided in part through Policy Map, an online data and mapping application that allows community members to visualize and analyze geographic data in one place.

We seek to overcome this challenge and to create a meaningful application of what has been learned through the data and our experiences. We feel that without developing a model of sustainability and incorporating the ideas of the community, this type of initiative can become unsuccessful.

Our solutions to these issues have been the development and implementation of our Food Access Network ecosystem, community engagement, and youth educational programs. New Jersey Health Initiatives’ support has provided the inspiration and tools to engage in conversations across many industries in our town. Our next step is to engage Burlington City residents and show them the possibilities when we work together. While these steps are in progress, our youth programs will teach students to identify and understand how healthy food options in our town are vital to their success.

Currently, our Dream Team has grown the Burlington City Food Access Network to include multiple partners. These partnerships include Rowan College at Burlington County Workforce Development Institute (RCBC WDI), Sounds of Tomorrow, Collective Fare, Smithsonian Institute, and Amazon. In the coming months, we will work to partner with several local organizations in hopes that we can share resources and collaborate on events. We expect all of these unified efforts to culminate in a physical marketplace that offers food and more.

Our plan now is to launch a campaign highlighting the lack of food in our community, and our plans to combat insecurity using the food marketplace/community center. It is vital to have the community’s voice heard in regard to what it needs. Our team has decided that we need to create a community awareness campaign that includes a survey, social media components, and video production. Take a look at this video introduction to the Burlington City Food Access Network, produced by interns from the Opportunity League:

Finally, educational programming through The Opportunity League that focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math (STEAM) for youth is vital to the overall success of this project. This type of programming allows us to introduce the importance of healthy living at a young age and gives youth the opportunity to participate in experiential learning.

Together, multi-sector partners are needed to address the needs of overlooked and underserved segments of our community. We welcome other towns that are also working to address food insecurity to join us in this quest and possibly create some supply chain, whether tangibly or through shared ideas. Connect with our project directors and Dream Team through social media or email.

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.
Seigha Omuso
The Opportunity League