JERSEY CITY, NJ - A $295,263 grant by the Kresge Foundation, one of just 25 awarded across the county, will allow the Jersey City Health Department to continue efforts to address the impact of COVID-19 while addressing racial injustice and inequity.

“It’s been a very tough year and of course we all would likely change some aspects of our response in hindsight, but we are lucky in Jersey City to have an amazing team that was the first in New Jersey to take aggressive measures protecting residents,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “Over the last 6 months this team has set the standard for public policy on so many fronts.  I’m really proud of the team we have assembled here, and it is nice to be recognized nationally during these times.

“As the most diverse city in the nation, our residents have diverse needs, and we’re committed to expanding critical resources many residents rely on. We will continue to identify and address health disparities and to ensure we meet the emerging needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fulop added.  

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The grant will specifically be used in Jersey City to address health inequities, further health education, and increase access to mental health and violence prevention services. The training component will help develop and certify professional staff to address behavioral health issues and integrate best practices on violence prevention into department programs and services.   

“We rely on our nation’s public health experts to advance and promote community health,” said Monica Valdes Lupi, Managing Director of Kresge’s Health Program. “In a rapidly changing environment, our ELPH partners have been able to adapt and pivot their work and advance strategic approaches to health in their communities.”   

“We have drastically improved public access to the myriad of health services we offer from meal deliveries to mental health services, to public showers, to distributing hand sanitizers and masks, and everything in between,” said Stacey Flanagan, Director of the Jersey City Health and Human Services Department. “We are meeting the historic demand for our city services, and this grant is a much-needed financial boost to be able to expand upon our success to ensure no one is left behind.”   

Jersey City saw a 300 percent increase in demand for Meals on Wheels throughout the pandemic. Utilizing innovative approaches to close food access gaps, the city enlisted local transportation services and the like to help deliver the meals to ensure no one goes hungry.   

Also, during the height of the pandemic, the city’s public showers were reopened with expanded hours to help the homeless maintain sanitation and hygiene, a key factor in curbing the spread of the virus. The location has also provided city staff the chance to build meaningful relationships and provide useful support and supplies, including free flu shots and rapid response COVID-19 testing, in addition to clothing, food, and client assessments.    

These innovative efforts are part of a broader initiative that led to Jersey City being chosen as one of five cities worldwide to engage in a rare partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF), changing how government approaches public policy as it relates to the global fabric of a healthier world.

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