WAYNE, NJ – The Township of Wayne’s Department of Senior and Social Services promoted healthy eating habits with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables by arranging for a mobile market on Fairfield Road in Wayne.
The RWJ Barnabas Wellness on Wheels (WOW) van was parked next to the mobile market provided by City Green, while Shoprite of Little Falls had a table set up with their registered Dietician. In conjunction with the Wayne Health Department, Chilton Hospital’s nurse Aurea DeLeon provided health screenings.
Nicole Palacas and Wykerria Campbell from RWJ Barnabas Health provided healthy recipes and educated the locals on healthy foods and good eating habits. Residents watched closely as Palacas cooked up a dish of Ratatouille whose main ingredients are staples of a local harvest this time of year: eggplant, summer squash, and tomatoes. Fresh basil was provided from the hydroponic garden on the WOW van.
“Our basil is very spoiled,” said Campbell as she demonstrated how the basil is grown within a water system rather than in soil. “All the nutrients they need are within the water, and with the grow light system, hydroponic basil grows two to three times faster than when planted in soil.”
Resident Ernie Kapusta couldn’t wait to taste the meal, whose delicious smell wafted in the air. “I’m waiting for the Ratatouille to be done,” he said with a grin. When asked what was in his bag, he said: “I bought some tomatoes, and potatoes from the mobile market. I love when they come out here for us.”
Lauren Feinberg and George Pagan manned the mobile market for City Green which is a non-profit farming and gardening organization. “Our mobile market program mainly serves low-income families. We increase access by bringing fresh, local, organic produce to communities and senior citizens in high-need areas,” said Feinberg. Their tables were loaded with freshly picked carrots, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peaches, apples and much more.
Heather Shasa, the dietician from Shoprite in Little Falls had a table at the event as well. “I’m here to talk to the community about nutritious ways to bring health and wellness to their families,” said Shasa. “I also want to promote family meals month, which is really important. Studies have shown that having regular family meals together can be beneficial for children and parents alike to get together as a family and encourage those healthy eating habits.”
Bill Dunlop is a Wayne resident who volunteered at the event. “There are a lot of elderly people in this neighborhood who can’t drive, but they can walk down here and get fresh locally grown food, said Dunlop. “We’re supporting our community; we’re supporting local farms. How can you beat that?”
This was all organized by Rosemary Acampora, the Director of Wayne Township’s Senior, Social Services & Welfare department. She was touched by the event. “All the organizations and people who come and volunteered to provide free services and screenings is heartwarming,” said Acampora “It’s always nice when a whole group of people join together for a good cause.”