Image description Office of Nutrition & Fitness Newsletter
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Image description Image description December 2012
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ShapingNJ Welcomes New Partners

  • My Genes Fit
    My Genes Fit (MGF) is a company with a focus on educating youth on the important topic of bullying with a 360 learning and empowerment program encouraging better self-esteem, improving peer relationships and making smart choices. They aim to empower youth and provide a toolkit for life to assist them to become confident young adults embracing differences.

  • New Covenant United Methodist Church
    Located in Hamilton, New Jersey, New Covenant United Methodist Church provides worship services to Christians in Trenton, Hamilton and Bordentown. The church also runs a food pantry that provides assistance to more than 100 individuals each month.

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    Note from the Director:
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    The last several weeks have been incredibly hectic, including the Obesity Summit last week in East Brunswick, as well as a very promising trip to Boston earlier this month to learn from our colleagues there.  We, that is the "Somerville 10" (see photo below) had the incredible good fortune to meet with the Mayor of Somerville, MA - Joseph Curtatone - a true champion of healthy communities and health in all policies.  He has provided leadership in creating a city where people want to live and raise their children - because the city's policies reflect the values of their citizens.  This was very inspiring - and this is what we want to create throughout NJ. Stay tuned for next steps, as we begin to build a collective impact model in NJ to move the work and the partnership to the next level.

    Additionally, I want to give a shout-out to Cherry Hill for their model ordinance that bans smoking and the use of tobacco products at all public buildings and grounds in the township. Way to go, Cherry Hill!

    On behalf of the Office of Nutrition & Fitness, I want to wish you all a healthy, happy and peaceful holiday season.

    In Health,

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    Office of Nutrition and Fitness (ONF) and ShapingNJ News:
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    New Jersey Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment in Child Care Project Brings Healthy, Active Policies to NJ Child Care Centers
    Evaluation results from ShapingNJ's child care initiative, the New Jersey Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care project found that two-thirds of participating child care centers are offering more training and education around nutrition and physical activity to staff and parents. 

    Breastfeeding Rates Increase in the NJ Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative
    A new ShapingNJ report evaluating the New Jersey Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative documented an 11 percent increase in exclusive breastfeeding rates among the 10 participating hospitals. Three participating hospitals received "Baby-Friendly" designation; on average, hospitals achieved three to four steps of the 10 steps required for designation.

    ShapingNJ Partners Convene New Jersey Obesity Summit
    More than 350 individuals attended the Obesity Prevention Summit in New Jersey, The State of the State: Important Next Steps. Sponsored by the Office of Nutrition and Fitness, NJ Partnership for Healthy Kids as part of the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, The NJ Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health and Family and Community Health Sciences at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, this conference provided information about applying systems thinking to obesity prevention, the impact of advertising on childhood obesity and workshops for advancing work in the worksite, early care education, school and community.

    ShapingNJ to Award 12 Mini-Grants to Make Communities Healthier
    In January, ShapingNJ will continue its work to make communities healthier and more active in 12 NJ communities. Community coalitions, spearheaded by two local health departments and 10 local YMCAs will be awarded mini-grants to implement a variety of activities in support of ShapingNJ strategies. Funded activities include:

    • Crime Prevention through Environmental Design program
    • Walking audit
    • Open play streets program
    • School breakfast expansion campaign
    • Vending machine policies
    • Healthy food policies in faith-based congregations and their community service organizations

    Red Bank Mayor's Wellness Campaign Holds Kick-Off Walk
    ShapingNJ Community pilot Red Bank kicked off their Mayor's Wellness Campaign with a Community Kick Start Walk. More than 110 local residents participated in the walk in Marine Park.

    Family Resource Network's Get FIT Program Addresses Obesity for Individuals with Disabilities
    partner The Family Resource Network is receiving acclaim for its Get FIT (Fitness, Integration and Training) initiative. The program provides physical activity and nutrition education programs for the disability community in a variety of settings. It also works to train current health and exercise science students at local universities.

    USDA Farm to School Highlights NJ Farm to School Network's School Garden of the Year Awards
    The United States Department of Agriculture's Farm to School program highlighted the NJ Farm to School Network and Edible Jersey Magazine's initiative to award innovative school garden projects. Three schools received awards:

    • William H. Ross Elementary School and Eugene A. Tighe Middle School in Margate City, NJ
    • Lawrenceville Elementary School in Lawrenceville, NJ
    • St. Philip's Academy in Newark, NJ

    New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids Cities Reporting Progress
    ShapingNJ partner NJ Partnership for Healthy Kids (NJPHK) and the five cities project works in  New Brunswick, Newark, Camden, Trenton and Vineland -working to change their communities to impact childhood obesity. Successes reported are:

    ShapingNJ Highlighted in League of Municipalities November Magazine

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    New Jersey News:
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    New Jersey School Receives Farm to School Planning Grant
    West New York School district is one of 68 projects that received funding from the US Department of Agriculture to connect school cafeterias with local agricultural producers. The school district will work to create a plan that includes programs that serve fresh and nutritious foods while maximizing the use of fresh, locally grown, produced and processed foods and educating students and the community about healthy foods and farming practices.

    More than 35 New Jersey Communities Have Complete Streets Policies
    In October 2012, Middle Township became the 35th municipality in New Jersey to adopt a Complete Streets policy. Cranford residents are working towards a Complete Streets policy as well, collecting signatures for a petition to encourage their municipal government to adopt a policy.

    Fresh Grocer Grocery Store Opens in New Brunswick
    In November, Fresh Grocer became the first supermarket to open in a documented food desert in  New Brunswick, NJ in more than 20 years. It is also one of the first supermarkets to open that is funded by the New Jersey Food Access Initiative. Fresh Grocer is part of a mixed-use redevelopment project by the New Brunswick Development Corp, which also includes a fitness center and walkway to connect to the local train station.

    New Jersey Ranks 8th in the US for Overall Health
    The United Health Foundation released the 2012 America's Health Rankings, a system that tracks a variety of health indicators to better understand health and wellness in each state. In 2012, New Jersey ranked 8th in the country for overall health; an improvement from 17th in 2011. Additional NJ rankings include: 4th in obesity, 27th in youth obesity (high school students), 30th in physical activity, and 22nd in fruit consumption. Click here to learn more about New Jersey's rankings.

    Looking for more New Jersey news? Click here to see more!

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    National News:
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    Shape of the Nation 2012 Report Profiles Physical Education in New Jersey Schools
    The National Association for Sport and Physical Education released a report on the status of physical education in the nation. The report provides summary information about national trends and state profiles about policies and practices around physical education. The New Jersey profile is available here.

    Community Health Needs Assessment Tool Launched
    The second version of the Community Health Needs Assessment tool is a free, web-based tool designed to assist hospitals, community-based organizations, state and local health departments, financial institutions, and others in understanding the needs and assets of their communities. offers comprehensive GIS mapping, analytic and reporting tools to facilitate the assessment of community health needs and assets that is critical to shaping and investing in the health and well-being of our communities.

    USDA Releases Updated Estimates of Access to Affordable and Nutrition Foods
    The US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service released a new report that updates data on spatial access to affordable, healthy food. It measures distance to the nearest supermarkets for the U.S. population and considers factors like vehicle ownership and income level of households and areas. The report found that nearly 10 percent of the US population lives in low-income areas more than 1 mile from a supermarket and does not have a vehicle.

    2012 School Health Index: Self-Assessment and Planning Guide Released
    To reflect new 2012 changes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the School Health Index (SHI), an online self-assessment and planning tool that schools can use to improve their health and safety policies and programs. The SHI 2012 adds sexual health as a new topic, updates nutrition questions to reflect the Institute of Medicine's Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools, and revises the cross cutting questions to be more integrative. Changes have been made to many of the SHI modules to incorporate the new topic, update content on existing topics, and reflect a more coordinated approach to school health.

    Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic Publishes State and Local Food Policy Toolkits
    In response to growing local and state interest in the food system, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic worked with stakeholders to provide guidance for the legal context and policy examples from around the nation to help initiate food policy councils and enact change in the food system. The state level toolkit is available here and the local level toolkit can be found here.

    Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association Join in Advocacy Initiative
    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association announced an ambitious, $8 million collaboration to create and manage an advocacy initiative focused on changing local, state and national policies to help children and teenagers eat healthier foods and become more active.

    Click here for more National news about physical activity, nutrition and obesity.

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    January 15, 2013
    Kitchen Essentials: Knife Skills, Food Handling and Healthy Recipes Workshop
    Burlington County Community College Culinary Arts Center
    Mt. Holly, NJ
    New Jersey Farm to School Network, along with the New Jersey Department of Education, Division of Student and Field Services and Nutri-Serve Food Management Company, are providing this hands-on skills training. Participants will be given chef's knives to work with fresh produce and create healthy recipes that can be used in school lunch menus in accordance with the USDA School Meal Regulations.

    January 21, 2013
    Winter Planning for the Spring School Garden Webinar
    The New Jersey Farm to School Network is sponsoring this free webinar to help schools plan for their spring school gardens.

    January 23, 2013
    Forging Fresh Ways to Serve Breakfast At Schools: South Jersey Breakfast Summit
    Blackwood, NJ
    Advocates for Children of new Jersey, Food Research and Action Center, NJ Partnership for Healthy Kids and the NJ Statewide School Breakfast Expansion Committee are sponsoring a summit to highlight the progress of schools that are serving "Breakfast in the Classroom". The meeting will include information about best practices for implementation, common barriers, stakeholder engagement and success stories.

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