New Jersey Health Initiatives - A Better State of Health
A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program
Emerging as Community Leaders in Perth Amboy

The Emerging Leaders of Perth Amboy were able to accomplish quite a bit to impact their community with their three summer 2019 initiatives focused on food insecurity, water safety, and beautification. Regarding food insecurity, they implemented two action plans: 1) hosting a “My Choice Store” and 2) distributing free lunches. The “My Choice Store” allows adults over 55 who meet specific income criteria to receive free produce. The Emerging Leaders inventory the produce they are given and decide how best to categorize it based on the quantity received. On the days where the “My Choice Store” was open, the Emerging Leaders were the seniors’ personal shoppers, educating them about the available produce and their nutritional values, while also offering storage advice and recipes featuring the produce available. The team also conducted a delivery service to local nursing homes in the area on one of the “My Choice Store” days. Thanks to our partnership with Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services and the Jewish Renaissance Foundation’s Silver Linings program, the “My Choice Store,” led by the Emerging Leaders, tackled food insecurity among Perth Amboy’s older population.

At Caledonia Park, the Emerging Leaders partnered with the Perth Amboy Recreation Department to distribute free lunches. The lunches provided were funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. These lunches were available to children 18 years old and younger, which allowed the Emerging Leaders to also address food insecurity in the community’s younger population. While the Emerging Leaders distributed the free lunches, they also educated children on healthy eating habits through coloring pages, self-designed games, and games from a “Catch Kid Club” box that offers more than 200 games to play with children.

Animated GIFWhile at Caledonia Park, the Emerging Leader not only tackled food security issues, they also addressed water safety. The City of Perth Amboy sent out a letter to residents about the possibility of lead in their water, so the Emerging Leaders took the initiative to design a brochure about the dangers of lead in water, which they distributed with free lead testing kits from their partner Home Depot. Home Depot also provided the Emerging Leaders with two Brita water filters to give to the community. This partnership allowed the Emerging Leaders to host a giveaway to those who provided proof of having tested their water with the kit provided.

When the “My Choice Store” was closed, the Emerging Leaders could be found at the Perth Amboy Alliance for the Community garden. Here, the Emerging Leaders beautified and revitalized the garden by cleaning, painting flower pots, and yarn bombing the fence. Yarn bombing is a fun activity where participants weave yarn through a fence to create a shape or image. Through this work, the Emerging Leaders built pride among residents who live near the garden. To see the awe-inspiring execution of each action plan, follow the Emerging Leaders on their Instagram at ngclperthamboy!

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Project
Author
Janelle Sonsiadek
Organization
Jewish Renaissance Foundation