VIDEO : New Initiative Helping Cumberland Co. Make Healthier Choices

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BRIDGETON – The “Live Healthy Cumberland County” program has partnered with more than two dozen corner stores and local businesses to provide residents and employees of Cumberland County easier ways to have access to fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food.
“People don’t get enough of their fruits and vegetables, I don’t think they actually realize how much they should be getting," said Jessica Atkinson, Health Educator at Cumberland County Dept. of Health.
Live Healthy Cumberland County, an initiative started a few months ago and based off of Live Healthy Vineland, is finally making its way into local corner stores.
“A lot of the stores already do have good items, it’s mostly just about educating the consumer, at this point, about what to buy," said Atkinson.
With help from a $550,000 grant, the Cumberland County Health Department has been teaming up with more than two dozen corner stores to provide easier access to fruits and vegetables.
“You’ll see a lot of the corner stores now, they have candy and ice cream and over time, we’re hoping to you know, change that so at eye level they can see the more healthier products, so when the kids are with their parents, they can say “oh I want that orange,” instead of the taffy," said Megan Sheppard, Health Officer at Cumberland County Dept. of Health.
As part of the initiative, signs and labels will be installed around the different food groups to give customers a better idea of what they’re choosing to take home.
“Obviously green is what you want to eat the most of, the red you should stay away from, and the yellow can be a treat or something like that," said Atkinson.
“If they’re going to choose products with sugar in them, they know how much sugar is in them, vs. what they get with a healthier product," said Sheppard.
Aside from helping the local shops provide better nutrition to their neighborhoods, the Health Department is also teaming up with local businesses to provide weight loss programs, healthier vending machine options, added exercise, and other options for their employees.
“We work with them to see what they can do from small products to larger initiatives, just to make a more healthier environment for their employees," said Sheppard.
Cumberland County was recently ranked as one of the most unhealthiest counties in New Jersey and the health department hopes that with these new programs, they can start changing the way the residents see food shopping.
“I think by showing that we’re invested and that we really want to get the community and all that is in it healthier, I think that can really bring us up, said Atkinson.