Nothing succeeds like success!
In 2012, the Food Bank of South Jersey’s (FBSJ) Healthy Living Initiative (HLI) offered its first cooking classes in Salem County, at the Salem Family Success Center. The feedback from participants – five families who learned to prepare nutritious meals on limited budgets – was overwhelmingly positive.
The buzz got the attention of Brenda Goins, Executive Director of the Salem Health and Wellness Foundation (SHWF). Goins was determined to have HLI programming made available to more Salem County residents, so she met with HLI Senior Manager Raquel Moreno to establish a game plan.
With grants in 2013 and 2014 that totaled $11,000, SHWF enabled HLI to expand its presence in Salem. Soon classes that taught teens how to bake and cook using healthy ingredients, and trained them to become nutrition “ambassadors” with their peers, were offered at Salem High School and the United Way.
Goins continued to hear good things about HLI’s impact from her constituents. So in conjunction with the Community Foundation of New Jersey, SHWF awarded a $50,000 grant to FBSJ in August 2015 for a major expansion of services. Goins indicates that the decision to support FBSJ and HLI on a larger scale was in step with SHWF’s Healthy Kids, Bright Futures Initiative.
“One of our focus areas is childhood obesity,” said Goins.
“To reduce the incidence of this health issue, Children must be taught at an early age to eat nutritiously.”
“FBSJ’s emphasis on nutrition awareness and healthy eating behaviors is the perfect complement to our physical activity programming. Together, we can serve Salem County residents well, helping them to improve overall health.”
For Moreno, the increase in funding is all about opening more doors and more minds. “We will continue our relationships with Salem High School and the United Way, but now have the opportunity to introduce our lifestyle-changing programs to Pennsgrove High School and Salem County Special Services,” stated Moreno.
“And we will have the flexibility to offer more variations of our curriculum. There will be Cooking Matters classes available for children, teens, families, and adults, for example, and we will offer Cooking Matters at the Store to teach participants how to stretch budget dollars and make smart, healthy choices when shopping.”