Policy Big and Small

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

The Shaping Elizabeth (SE) Food Policy Committee has been expanding its focus on food insecurity, and understanding of relevant current and future policies.

Stu Bressler, a consultant who has worked with Shaping Elizabeth and Lifelong Elizabeth, reviewed the Anti-Hunger legislation introduced to the New Jersey General Assembly by Speaker Craig Coughlin. As a result, the Committee invited Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and Lisa Pitz, Hunger Free NJ Outreach Director, to our Food Policy Committee meeting. We wanted to learn more about what is currently happening at the federal, state and local levels, and what we could do to encourage the community’s support and raise awareness of current food insecurity concerns in Elizabeth.

After speaking with Lisa, our committee decided to:

  • “Like” Hunger Free NJ’s Facebook page and share their information.
  • Explore Elizabeth’s current “Breakfast after the Bell” program and seek ways to break down existing barriers and increase participation.
  • Expand the number of Summer Feeding sites and increase communication to build community awareness of anti-hunger initiatives.
  • Invite Lisa Pitz to become a member of Shaping Elizabeth’s Food Policy Committee.

Eight of our Food Policy Committee partners also met with Assemblywoman Quijano to share Shaping Elizabeth’s mission, goals, objectives and highlights, as well as the benefits and strengths of the coalition. We shared information with the Assemblywoman to ensure she is making informed decisions and advocating for policies based on her constituents’ everyday circumstances. During the meeting, several Shaping Elizabeth partners also provided information about their organizations’ and needs, in addition to expressing interest in future partnerships with the Assemblywoman. The meeting was positive and we will stay in contact with Assemblywoman Quijano through her Chief of Staff.

We have reached out to Assemblyman Jamel Holley for a similar meeting.

Currently, our goals regarding healthy food policy include: a review of the Gateway Family YMCA’s Healthy Food Policy by the Shaping Elizabeth coalition partners for community events and programs, and adopting the policy in 2019.

Once adopted, our partners have agreed to share the coalition’s healthy food policy with their organizations for review and hopeful adoption.

We’re learning policy work can seem uncomfortable and confusing at times.  We hope to see some sustainable results that will reduce food insecurity in Elizabeth. Time will tell. Connect with us to learn more about Shaping Elizabeth’s work to build a healthier community.

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
The Gateway Family YMCA