CAMDEN, NJ — Camden’s Roots to Prevention Partnership (RTP) was among this week's nationwide winners of a $500,000 grant from the BUILD Health Challenge to create a healthier community and improve income opportunities.

“RTP believes in the healthcare sector’s capacity to support a healthy local food economy,” said RTP administrator Jonathan Wetstein. “We also recognize the need to bring more partners to the table. "The more RTP grows, the more resources and opportunities exist for local food growers and food-prescription recipients to participate in the future of urban farming and ultimately improve community health.”

RTP was among 18 initiatives from 130 to win the award.

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The organization said key in achieving their goal to create a healthier city will be partnerships with the Parkside Business & Community in Partnership (PBCIP), Virtua Health, Camden County, Rowan University, The Food Trust, and the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.

“This award will enable us to encourage local health care providers to purchase produce grown in their communities,” said Bridget Phifer, executive director of PBCIP. “It will help us reduce hunger and the prevalence of diet-related illnesses while also supporting job creation, land redevelopment, and economic revitalization.”

Half of the award was contributed by Virtua Health — South Jersey’s largest health system.

“This is a visionary initiative, and we’re thrilled to support it,” said Dennis Pullin, president and CEO of Virtua Health. “Social and economic factors have a huge impact on people’s health. The RTP initiative will address the roots of these issues to help the people of Camden live healthier, happier lives.”

RTP said the following will be funded in part by the grant: a Food Bucks Rx (FBRx) program at Virtua Health’s Camden Campus, (providing locals with vouchers that can be redeemed for fruits and vegetables) and six FBRx redemption sites in Camden.

It will also use grant money to analyze data on the initiatives to measure long-term effectiveness.