SOMERSET COUNTY – In 2015, Healthier Somerset partnered with ShapingNJ and the New Jersey Department of Health to combat obesity and chronic disease in Somerset County. The organization was awarded a $12,000 grant to educate targeted communities on the importance of physical activity and a healthy diet.
Partners in the grant presented seminars in Manville, Bound Brook, and Somerville showing how to make easy summer meals with fresh fruit and produce found at farmers markets. We also focused on “Complete Streets,” a state program designed to encourage safe access for all roadway users. All three of our targeted communities have passed a resolution agreeing to adopt Complete Streets principles in their planning.
This year, Healthier Somerset is continuing this work with a grant from Atlantic Health System and the NJ Healthy Communities Network. The $20,000 grant covers two years of activity, and Healthier Somerset is again focusing on nutrition and physical activity, expanding the successful program to Bridgewater, Green Brook, and North Plainfield.
As part of our program to encourage healthy eating and active lifestyles in these communities, Healthier Somerset is planning the first of the nutrition seminars that are a key focus of our NJHCN grant activities.
NJ SNAP Ed will plan and implement the seminars. The brief mini-lessons include tips on increasing fresh fruit and vegetable access. Other topics cover the importance of reducing sugary drinks in our daily diets. An informative display is set up at the site, and clientele are engaged in the lesson through hands-on participation.
The North Plainfield seminars will be offered in two locations: the offices of the North Plainfield Board of Social Services and the North Plainfield Saint Vincent DePaul Food Pantry.
Attendees at the seminars will receive vouchers toward the purchase of fruits, vegetables, and eggs with selected vendors at a farmers market.
This project could not be completed with the collaboration and support of numerous partners. In addition to NJ SNAP Ed, we are grateful for the participation of Bridgewater Department of Health, EmPoWER Somerset, Middle-Brook Regional Health Commission, Morris-Somerset Regional Chronic Disease Coalition, RideWise TMA, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, Somerset County Department of Health, and Somerset County Planning Division.
Healthier Somerset congratulates the borough of North Plainfield, the first of the three municipalities to adopt a “Complete Streets” policy. They will now receive bike racks for their municipality.
The power of partnership has proven to be the key factor in building success for all of Healthier Somerset’s projects. We invite all Somerset County nonprofit organizations, businesses, schools, and agencies to partner with us in the coming months as we continue in our mission to make Somerset County the healthiest county in New Jersey. For more information, visit www.healthiersomerset.org.
Rebecca Perkins is the project manager for Healthier Somerset.