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NJ DHS Commissioner tours hydroponic farm with CEO

Newark, New Jersey, September 20, 2017 – Newark Beth Israel Medical Center today announced its authorization and participation as the first hospital-based vendor in the state and federally run Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), with its hydroponic farm, The Beth Greenhouse and Farmers Market.  NJ SNAP sales will begin there on October 5, 2017.

Staff from Newark Beth Israel and the Beth Greenhouse toured the hydroponic farm with Department of Human Services’ (DHS) acting Commissioner, Elizabeth Connolly, who helped advance the SNAP vendor application approval with the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services. NJDHS administers NJ SNAP benefits through county welfare agencies and local boards of social services.

"We are proud to accept SNAP benefits at The Beth Greenhouse at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. This is a welcome addition to one of our most successful wellness programs and fully aligns with our mission to improve and sustain the health of the communities we serve," said Darrell K. Terry, Sr., MHA, MPH, FACHE, President and CEO, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children's Hospital of New Jersey.

Currently, about 100 pounds of food - cultivated and harvested at the greenhouse - is distributed every week through sales at the Farmer’s Market and in donations to local food pantries.  It has always been open to the community, but its designation as a NJ SNAP vendor will now allow the Farmer’s Market to accept NJ SNAP benefits – disbursed on an Electronic Benefit card – as payment. Proceeds from sales are reinvested in programming for health and wellness activities in the local community. 

“This SNAP designation is a perfect extension of our mission to provide an affordable option for local residents to access fresh locally grown organic vegetables, fruits and herbs, as well as nutrition education through hands-on farming, nutrition analysis, recipes and more,” said Barbara Mintz, MS, RD, Senior Vice President of Health Living and Community Engagement for RWJBarnabas Health.  “We are excited that the SNAP designation will allow us to extend our reach even further."

The Farmer’s Market has been in existence since 2011 and was one of the hospital’s first wellness initiatives.  At that time, the food was grown in outdoor earth boxes. Its success led to the development of the hydroponic greenhouse, which opened in May 2016. Like a traditional greenhouse or farm it grows vegetables, fruits and herbs. Newark Beth also uses the greenhouse to host educational programs that teach kids, parents and community members about gardening, nutrition and overall wellness.

“Today’s tour of The Beth Greenhouse really emphasizes how inclination and innovation can positively affect whole communities,” said Commissioner Connolly. “In urban areas, there often aren’t the opportunities or affordable options for fresh produce and that impacts so many health and social factors. Newark Beth Israel is really at the forefront of community-based holistic-wellness initiatives.”

NJ SNAP, formerly Food Stamps, is New Jersey's food assistance program that supplements low-income families’ grocery budgets.  Eligibility depends on several factors like income, household size, and resources, but generally, individuals or families with incomes up to 185% of the federal poverty level are qualified. Examples include a household of one with income less than $1860 a month or a couple with monthly income less than $2504 or a family of five making less than $4437 a month.

As of June 2017, there were 787,356 people receiving SNAP benefits statewide, 114,746 in Essex County including 55,898 children.

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About RWJBarnabas Health

RWJBarnabas Health is the most comprehensive health care delivery system in New Jersey, with a service area covering five million people. The system includes eleven acute care hospitals – Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, Community Medical Center in Toms River, Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, RWJUH- New Brunswick, RWJUH- Somerset in Somerville, RWJUH- Hamilton, RWJUH- Rahway and Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston; three acute care children’s hospitals and a leading pediatric rehabilitation hospital (Children’s Specialized Hospital), a freestanding 100-bed behavioral health center, ambulatory care centers, geriatric centers, the state’s largest behavioral health network, comprehensive home care and hospice programs, fitness and wellness centers, retail pharmacy services, a medical group, multi-site imaging centers and an accountable care organization. 


RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey’s second largest private employer – with more than 33,000 employees, 9,000 physicians and 1,000 residents and interns – and routinely captures national awards for outstanding quality and safety.

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