New Jersey Health Initiatives - A Better State of Health
A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program
Fighting Food Insecurity
April 3, 2020 / Next Gen Leaders

There are many health-related issues within my city, and as Bridgeton’s Next Generation Community Leaders (Next GEN Leaders), our team chose to target food insecurity. In Fall 2019, we visited downtown Bridgeton and set up tables with bags of fresh produce. Our plan was to provide members of our community with a bag of healthy food items they could incorporate into their Thanksgiving meals. Prior to receiving the groceries, we asked the recipients to complete a survey to help us determine if the lack of access to foods affected individuals throughout the community. Skipping a meal during the day might be normal, but for others it could mean going hungry that entire day. 

Bridgeton Mayor Albert B. Kelly, and Next GEN Leaders Jennifer Hernandez, and Erick Ojeda collect surveys from the community.

“How do you feel about the youth helping the community?” This was one of the questions on our survey. My team and I were able to interact with many different individuals within our community and receive their feedback. This question generated very similar responses from different individuals. Overall, the survey respondents saw our work as making a positive impact on our community. This is great because not all young individuals want to get involved because they don’t realize their own potential to make a difference. This opportunity, made available to us by our partners, has allowed us to realize our potential and will hopefully, inspire other citizens to do the same.

Next GEN Leaders: L/R, Joanna, Tra’mir (back), Jennifer (front), Erick, Marcos, Josue (sunglasses), and Silva (grey hat) with community members who completed the survey.

With the data collected from the surveys, my team and I can make a plan to further execute our future goals. Within our meetings we continue to progress further so one day, everyone in Bridgeton will be able to get the food they need. Food insecurity is a serious issue and it should be addressed not only in my city but in every city. At the end of the day, food insecurity is an issue that people might choose to ignore or not talk about. Targeting this issue is difficult, but it is a challenge that my team and I are willing to take on to help our city, community, and neighbors. 

Rigoberto “Rigo” assisted in canvassing the neighborhood and notifying the community of the Bridgeton Next GEN Leaders’ purpose.

Connect with the Bridgeton Next Generation Community Leaders alumni on Facebook. Track all of the Next Generation Community Leaders teams through the hashtag #NJLeaders2030.

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Project
Author
Jennifer Hernandez
Organization
Bridgeton's Next GEN Leader