La Placita Takes the Healthy Challenge!

NJHI 2015: Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action Shaping Elizabeth Community Health Initiative

Shaping Elizabeth envisions an Elizabeth community where all residents have equitable access to healthy food.

We are on the move once again to tackle food insecurity and the need for healthier foods, and we celebrated Elizabeth’s second healthy corner store, La Placita, on May 16!

What was Elizabeth’s first healthy corner store? Find out here

Courtney Nelson, Senior Director of Community Health for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA), summed it up best, saying:

School 6 student selects a healthy snack!

“La Placita Grocery is located right across from School #6 [Toussaint l’Ouverture-Marquis de Lafayette School No. 6].  When the kids were dismissed from school, you couldn’t even get into the store because it was full of kids snacking on healthy options! It was so great to see children walk out with water, fruit and low-salt popcorn, enjoying their afterschool snacks.”

Our team will return to La Placita on June 13th to continue our work by offering health information, blood pressure screenings and healthy food vouchers.

She continued. “Additionally a press conference was held, which raised awareness of the program and advanced the case for exploring policy-change strategies together as a community. A HUGE shout out goes to Nancy DiLiegro for speaking on behalf of the AHA/ASA during the press conference, and I extend a very special thank you to Corey Wu-Jung and Shaping Elizabeth for the immense collaboration with this project. It was fantastic!”

It is great when our New Jersey partners feel as excited and invested in the health of our Elizabeth residents as we do. AHA/ASA is a great partner, through the sharing of its resources, expertise and excitement.

One-hundred and twenty Healthy Food Vouchers were distributed to children and adults, so they were able to taste the healthy food changes Store Owner Jose Azcona had made – salt free nuts, fresh fruit, low-salt popcorn and water are now available for purchase right up front near the entrance. The store also now stocks more cereals and dairy products that are both healthy and WIC-eligible.

LaPlacita, manager Jose is congratulated by City of Elizabeth Mayor J.Christian Bollwage.

It was great to have Mayor J. Christian Bollwage and 5th Ward City Councilman William Gallman, Jr. lend their support and enthusiasm for La Placita.

Jose was smiling from ear to ear as he stood next to the Mayor for a picture. Thank you to the City of Elizabeth’s Director of Health and Human Services, Krishna Garlic, and to her staff for their support.

Our team was back on May 30th and will return again on June 13th to continue our work by offering health information, blood pressure screenings, healthy food tastings and healthy food vouchers.

School 6 crossing guards brightened the day!

The School #6 crossing guards were so excited and helpful to our event as well.

Special thanks to Courtney, all of the AHA/ASA staff, and Corey Wu-Jung, who organized this great event, communicated about it and pulled it all together.

This event would not have been the success that it was without our partners. Deputy Director Cathy Hart of the Housing Authority for the City of Elizabeth, and her staff lent outstanding support with tents (that were a lifesaver in the rain), tables, chairs and a DJ to add to the festivities. Other partners in attendance included the Bayway Family Success Center – represented by Opal Montes – and Elizabeth Public Schools’ adminstrators Joseph Przytula and Kate Crimmins. The Elizabeth Public Library shared its resources and will soon have a Pop-Up Library they can bring out into the community. Also, a special thank you to Nancy DiLigero and the staff of Trinitas Regional Medial Center for conducting blood pressure screenings and providing information; to Jewish Family Services and Lifelong Elizabeth for sharing senior resources, and as always, to Karen Ensle, Family and Community Health Sciences Educator from Rutgers Cooperative Extension, for her support of healthy eating.

Which local store will be Elizabeth’s next healthy corner store? Connect with our project director, Alane McCahey, to stay up-to-date on our work.


The Team!
The Grantee Blog publishes a different NJHI-supported community’s update every week. Bookmark this site to stay up-to-date and share in the work of building healthier communities across New Jersey.
Alane McCahey
Shaping Elizabeth