Planting for the Future

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

Summer is here and our team has been cranking up the heat.  We’ve been focusing on growing community awareness of food insecurity in our city, developing key relationships to further our initiatives and educating our youth through engaging programs. Through our efforts, we’re making great strides in creating a community market within Burlington City to address food insecurity challenges, youth unemployment and provide services for families. We currently have a ratified proposal from the City of Burlington to move forward with the acquisition of property that will be the home of our community market.

Over the last few months, we’ve held community meetings with key stakeholders to garner support for the development of the community market. We’ve created videos of our community garden leaders to encourage more Burlington City community members to play an active role in creating healthy food options. 

Check out our community garden videos in this playlist:

We have been developing relationships with local and national organizations to enhance the Burlington City Food Access Network (BCFAN) ecosystem, obtain additional resources and increase community engagement. Our next steps are to implement the strategies we have developed to meet the needs of our city. We’ve started to develop relationships with key partners to create a supply chain for the community market and build a sustainable infrastructure.  Recently, we connected with the Burlington County WIC program to expand opportunities for WIC and SNAP processing. This work is part of our current app development and application for easy, discreet and accessible payment options. Based on conversations in the community, we were advised that being able to pay for food in a discreet way is important to families. 

The Opportunity League’s Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) program has also continued to provide experiential learning opportunities to encourage our local youth to pursue careers in STEAM.  This program integrates community engagement activities through lessons from youth mentors, career professionals and technologically enhanced projects. Through this platform of learning, participants and their families explore key areas of healthy living. The images below show some examples of the projects and lessons learned from our most recent cohort , “Superfood & The League of Extraordinary STEAM Students,” a six-week course about making healthy choices and being the best version of themselves.

In the six weeks of classes, students had a virtual culinary cook-off, took selfies doing healthy things in superhero fashion, created their own superheroes and made an animated video series, did group yoga, and learned from guest speakers. Our mission over the next few months is to start physical development of the property that will house our community market in Burlington City.  Included in this process will be additional resident engagement, the development of new relationships with suppliers and infrastructure development. New Jersey Health Initiatives’ support has provided encouragement and resources to assist our community.  We are so excited for the next steps in this project and to continue to enhance the impact of BCFAN.  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.
Kyle Martin
The Opportunity League