Meet Ms. Crystal, a Bayway area Elizabeth resident. She is a regular volunteer at the twice monthly Mobile Market, a Shaping Elizabeth (SE) initiative involving the Community Food Bank of NJ and the Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth bringing fresh produce to city residents. The SE Nutritionist provides recipes and food samples using the produce provided.
Ms. Crystal also attends “Let’s Cook Together Classes” held at the Bayway Family Success Center and presented by our SE Nutritionist. Ms. Crystal said, “I never tried new foods until I started coming to these classes and tasting the food at the mobile market. Now, I usually use the recipes and make them the following week. I used to never eat things like beans or kale, but I do now.”
She was also an active member of a community group that worked with the Union County Council for Young Children to advocate for increased bus service on weekends and evenings last year. Unfortunately, they did not receive a positive response.
Recently, memories of that community group surfaced among the SE coalition members. At our last meeting, Lisa Pitz, Outreach Director for Hunger Free NJ provided Shaping Elizabeth partners with a Policy 101 training. Lisa helped us think about opportunities to make changes at the local, state, and federal level. She stressed the importance of being persistent and enlisting supporters from throughout the community.
Partners then rolled up their sleeves and brainstormed about policy issues they would like to see our coalition stand behind. Some topics that came up included affordable housing for all, and increased availability of healthy and culturally diverse foods, as well as the transportation concerns of Ms. Crystal’s group.
With new found encouragement, we plan to assist Bayway community members with their advocacy efforts to increase transportation in their area through persistence, gaining more support from key leaders, and most of all being patient.
Ms. Crystal is just one of the many community members impacted by Shaping Elizabeth’s work to promote health and well-being.