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Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
May 10, 2011

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Ten New Jersey Communities Awarded Obesity Prevention Grants
Leaders in Obesity Prevention Work to Reverse the Epidemic


As part of a unique public-private partnership to help reverse the obesity epidemic, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services has joined with Walgreens, the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids, and Partners for Health to fund 10 local projects that will promote physical activity and healthier eating in communities around the state, Acting Commissioner Mary O’Dowd announced today. 

Ten grants ranging from $7,500 to $15,000 are being awarded to the counties of Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth, Somerset and Warren; the City of Paterson; and the townships of Irvington, Nutley and Montclair.  Each local agency will work with community partners on projects such as creating community gardens, farmers’ markets and walking clubs, installing bike racks, and improving and promoting local recreation trails.

The $135,000 program is being funded with $45,000 in DHSS grants, $45,000 from the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids, $30,000 from Partners in Health, and $15,000 from Walgreens.  DHSS is managing the program.

“To combat obesity, we must make our communities healthier places to live.  Low-income and minority communities are especially vulnerable because they often don’t have ready access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and opportunities for physical activity,” said Acting Commissioner O’Dowd. “This funding partnership shows how we can work together to have a positive impact on public health.”

The three funding organizations also participate in ShapingNJ, a statewide public/private partnership with more than 160 businesses, professional groups, foundations, and other community-based, national and state organizations. Coordinated by the DHSS Office of Nutrition and Fitness, ShapingNJ promotes policy and environmental changes to prevent obesity.

“The New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids is proud to contribute to an expanded effort to address obesity,” said Darrin Anderson, State Deputy Director of the Partnership, one of the grant funding organizations.  “We currently have community coalitions working on childhood obesity prevention efforts in five communities in New Jersey.  The opportunity to extend our reach by collaborating with ShapingNJ allows for considerable depth and scope of attack against this out-of-control epidemic.”

DHSS received funding for three community projects from the federal Communities Putting Prevention to Work-State and Territories Initiative, then encouraged other partners to join the effort and help fund additional projects. Grants to county or regional health agencies are for projects in specific towns.  All projects are expected to get underway later this spring.

DHSS and the other funding partners are providing technical assistance to the projects, and holding webinars and other learning opportunities to support the communities in creating healthier environments.  This will enable the communities to share strategies for success, discuss any challenges they face, and collaborate on statewide initiatives.  Each community will work on projects with its local partners, such as hospitals, schools, recreation departments, United Ways and YMCAs.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to work with New Jersey communities to create environments that support healthy choices,” said Peri Nearon, Office of Nutrition & Fitness director. “If we are to make a lasting impact, we need to find ways to make the healthy choice the easy choice for all New Jerseyans.”

Here is a list of funded agencies, grant information, and contact information:

Atlantic County Health Department – $15,000 from NJ Partnership for Healthy Kids, for community gardens, farmers markets, playground equipment and promoting outdoor fitness opportunities.  Contact Linda Duca, 609-645-5853

Cape May County Health Department – $15,000 from NJ Partnership for Healthy Kids for farmers market, healthier food options at public facilities, walking club and trail signs.  Contact Joan Rowland, 609-465-1225

Irvington Township Health Department – $15,000 from DHSS for community gardens, walking clubs, community education, and park and trail maps.  Contact Atif Nazir, 973-399-7745.

Monmouth County Health Department – $7,500 from NJ Partnership for Healthy Kids for creating school health councils.  Contact Karen DeMarco, 732-431-7456.

Monmouth Regional Health Commission – $7,500 from NJ Partnership for Healthy Kids for a healthy bodega initiative, and improving and promoting local fitness trails. Contact Sandy Van Sant, 732-493-9520.

Montclair Township Health Department – $15,000 from Partners in Health for community bike racks, park trail signs, and farm stands.  Contact Susan Portuese, 973-509-4970.

Nutley Township Department of Public Affairs -- $15,000 from Partners for Health for nutrition workshops, bike racks, youth walking program, and healthy town reception.  Contact Lauren Mccreesh, 973-284-4972.

Paterson City Health Department – $15,000 from DHSS for walking path and walking club, healthy living committee and intergenerational gardens.  Contact Robin Regenberg, 973-321-1277.

Somerset County Health Department – $15,000 from Walgreens for a lending/borrowing program for active play and sports equipment, and more healthy food options in restaurants, vending machines and food banks.  Contact Michele Samarya-Timm, 908-541-5749.

Warren County Health Department – $15,000 from DHSS for community gardens, trail maps and trail improvement.  Contact Liliana Molina, 908-475-7960.

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New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids
New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids is the state program office for childhood obesity prevention.  Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the initiative focuses on building and strengthening childhood obesity prevention activities in Trenton, Camden, Newark, Vineland and New Brunswick.  Strategies support the Foundation’s six policy priorities for improving nutrition and increasing opportunities for physical activity. 

Partners for Health
Partners for Health is a community foundation whose mission is to strengthen health and wellness in the communities of Bloomfield, Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Clifton, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Little Falls, Montclair, North Caldwell, Nutley, Roseland, Verona, West Caldwell and West Orange.

Walgreen Co. is a major national drugstore chain, with fiscal 2010 sales of $67 billion. The company has 244,000 employees.

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