ELIZABETH, NJ – Families, neighbors and children walking home from school May 10 got a special treat as they passed by Emily’s Supermarket on Clarkson Street. They found they could purchase a variety of fresh produce, low fat and whole grain options, while learning the importance of making healthy choices through some of the activities.

It was the NJ Healthy Corner Stores Initiative, hosted by the American Heart Association, Shaping Elizabeth, Bayway Family Success Center, Snap-Ed and among others with funding from the Food Trust. 

The NJ Healthy Corner Store Initiative supports public health and economic development by linking community partners with corner store owners to help stock, promote and sell healthy, affordable foods in communities that are underserved.        

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The activities began with a live DJ, healthy treats from Shaping Elizabeth and Snap-Ed, blood pressure screenings from Trinitas Medical Center, arts and crafts with Bayway Family Success Center and games involving a combination of different exercises to make healthy living more fun from the Gateway YMCA. 

“The Healthy Corner Store Kick-Off was truly a passion project for me and I am so proud of the overall success of the event!” exclaims Nancy DiLiegro, PhD, FACHE, vice president of Clinical Operations and Physician Services/Chief Clinical Officer at Trinitas Regional Medical Center.  “As a board member of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and chair of this event, it is very important for me to connect the community with ongoing resources to live healthier lives. This includes expanding access to quality food and produce. The Healthy Corner Store Initiative could potentially improve health rates for adults and children in our community.”

Added Alane McCahey, senior director of Community Initiatives at Shaping Elizabeth,  “Shaping Elizabeth is committed to improving the health of Elizabeth residents to reduce obesity and chronic disease by supporting changes for healthy eating. The Healthy Corner Store initiative is a great example.  We want to thank our partners HACE, COE, BOED, Groundwork Elizabeth, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Snap Ed, NJ Youth Core, The Gateway Family YMCA and The American Heart Association | The American Stroke Association.”

The New Jersey Healthy Corner Stores Initiative was modeled on a similar effort in Philadelphia that began about ten years ago that has made significant economic impact on the city.