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

Although it’s only Spring, things are heating up in Elizabeth.

We had our first Mobile Market on March 23, 2017. Pounds of fresh produce and healthy food were distributed to residents in the Bayway Community and several senior housing sites. In addition, community building around access to healthy food is gaining traction: Groundwork Elizabeth shared fresh parsley and is encouraging residents to register for one of the fifty plots that will be available in a new community garden. Union County Council for Young Children shared a petition for increasing bus transportation to the area on weekends so residents can get to where they need to go on Saturdays and Sundays. Staff and residents helped each other carry their bags back to their homes. In one instance, our coalition learned that one community member had experienced a fall and needed help while recovering, but she did not know where to turn to access such services. Feeling “safe” at the Mobile Market, she was able to tell us and our partners what happened and get the help she needed. We are just halfway into 2017 and already the indicators of impact, including perceptions of trust, are mounting.

Community building around access to healthy food is gaining traction.

Shaping Elizabeth partner, the Department of Health and Human Services for the City of Elizabeth planned a great series of programming for Public Health Week, April 1st – 8th with health screenings, employee wellness campaigns, Women’s Wellness programs, Caregivers Workshops, an Autism Awareness Walk, a panel on National Minority Health Awareness and more. Many of our coalition partners supported these events by offering their expertise and sharing their passion for a healthier Elizabeth.

We also offered our first 2017 Playstreet as part of Public Health Week programming. The games and sports offered focused on increasing physical activity among children with special needs and their families.

A great coalition meeting in March featured 28 partners participating in a discussion on supporting the immigrant and undocumented population in our community. Lauren Herman, Esq., from “Make the Road, NJ” presented information regarding policy changes affecting immigrants, as well as information on the new municipal ID program for all Elizabeth residents. Many of our partners shared stories about how our collaboration is impacting the families their organizations support. Shaping Elizabeth will continue this discussion and sharing of resources.

In addition to all of this great work, our focus on food insecurity is really moving; we are gathering data and discussed how to effectively map it so we can pinpoint gaps in service.

We are also happy to report that our Nutrition Educator, Corey Wu-Jung, MS, RDN was recognized for her outstanding work in the community by the YWCA, Union County in April.  Great work Corey!

WE ARE EXCITED AND COMMITTED! If you know someone who might be interested in partnering with us for a Mobile Market, or about our focus on addressing food insecurity, reach out to Shaping Elizabeth project director Alane McCahey, and follow us on Twitter: @TGFYMCA.


Alane McCahey
The Gateway Family YMCA