By Rutgers University Staff via Morning Ag Clips
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The schoolyard at the Lincoln Annex School on Somerset Street in New Brunswick was abuzz on a chilly day in October. The clackety clack of a prize wheel and delighted cries of children claiming their apples and mini pumpkins gave the aura of a carnival, however this festivity was actually a health and wellness-based farmers market. This pop-up version of the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market, is a part of a larger initiative building a healthy food web in New Brunswick.
“Community Connections” aims to build stronger bridges between the local wellness initiatives in the New Brunswick community, and nutrition and health-related activities in New Brunswick’s Lincoln Elementary (K-3) and Annex (4-8) Schools to support a healthier food and active living environment for children and their families. These stronger connections between the school’s activities and the local, environment-based activities are intended to synergistically promote wellness in New Brunswick.
Immigrant families make up a large part of the local community in New Brunswick. When these families adapt to new lifestyles and food choices, children can become the drivers of these changes due to their bilingual skills and greater exposure to the newer food and lifestyle choices, what they learn in the school environment and peer pressure. This is one of the reasons why Community Connections works with the local schools to help promote healthier eating and active living patterns for New Brunswick families.
Community Connections is a collaborative project — in addition to Rutgers Department of Nutritional Sciences, the partners include the Lincoln Annex School administration; New Jersey FoodCorps organization which delivers the educational content to the students; New Brunswick Community Food Alliance, which co-sponsors Hub City Fresh (healthy corner store initiative); and New Brunswick Tomorrow, which sponsors Live Well/Vivir Bien and Ciclovia. While the bridging of these initiatives is a cooperative effort, one person serves as the head engineer–Nurgul Fitzgerald, associate professor and extension specialist in nutrition and public health at Rutgers Department of Nutritional Sciences.