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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
September 09, 2010

Poonam Alaigh, MD, MSHCPM, FACP

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Trenton Faith-Based Group Joins Shaping NJ Effort to Make Communities Healthier


Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton has become the first faith-based group to join  Shaping  NJ, the Department of Health and Senior Services’ public-private partnership working to reduce obesity and help make New Jersey communities healthier places to live, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh announced today.


            Dr. Alaigh welcomed Trinity to the partnership during a visit to Trinity’s weekly Healthier Heart Farmer’s Market held on the church’s grounds at 801 W. State St. in Trenton.  Her visit is part of the statewide observance of September as Minority and Multicultural Health Month in New Jersey.      


            “Especially in our minority communities, fresh produce is often expensive and difficult to find, while fast-food restaurants and convenience stores are abundant,” the Commissioner said. “This farmer’s market is a perfect example of how community groups can help break down barriers that prevent people from making healthy choices.”


Each week, about 150 members of the community attend the farmer’s market, which features Jersey Fresh fruits, vegetables and plants; a healthy lunch; health education programs such cooking demonstrations; and blood pressure and other health screenings.  Farmers accept the Families First card, WIC Farmers Market Checks and Senior Farmers Market Checks.


            Shaping NJ is a 101-member partnership that includes businesses, professional groups, foundations, and many other community-based, national and state organizations.  It was launched in 2009 to develop and implement a statewide obesity prevention plan.  The plan has been developed and is now under review by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  DHSS is in the third year of a five-year, $4.1 million CDC grant to support plan development and implementation.


            The plan outlines strategies that community organizations, businesses, schools and other groups can implement to help New Jersey residents increase physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, and breastfeeding, while also decreasing their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and high-calorie foods, and reducing daily hours of television viewing.


Shaping NJ is focusing on policy and environmental changes -- such as increasing access to healthy food in cities and ensuring safe areas for physical activity -- that help “make the healthy choice the easy choice” for New Jersey residents.


            “Churches and religious congregations are natural partners in this effort because they can directly impact so many people in their communities,” said Commissioner Alaigh.  “We encourage all faith-based groups to join us.”

“Healthy Me, Healthy Us’’ is the theme of this year’s Minority and Multicultural Health Month.  It is designed to spotlight the importance of a healthy lifestyle for individuals, families and communities.

Minority communities are disproportionately affected by chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.  Healthy eating and exercise can help control weight and reduce the risk of these and other diseases.


            As part of Minority and Multicultural Health Month, 50 health care providers, community-based groups, faith-based organizations, academic institutions and other community partners are sponsoring health screenings, cultural festivals and other events around the state to promote good health for all.


Visit the DHSS Office of Minority and Multicultural Health calendar at to find an event near you.  The Department encourages New Jersey residents to participate in these events and to learn more about how to improve their health.


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