What if every pregnant and new mom had the tools to support their child to grow into healthy pre-schoolers, ready to take on the world!

Photo of Alane McCahey
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

At a recent North Jersey Health Collaborative Team meeting exploring options for raising healthy children a member shared a story about witnessing toddlers and pre-school age children drinking soda from bottles with a bag of chips as a snack. From this image we focused our attention on meeting mom's where they are at and creating an environment in medical offices for education and support for healthy nutrition in the community directed at pregnant woman and new moms to "Begin at the Beginning".

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian)
  • Hispanic, Latinx, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian)
  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)

If you chose to self-identify your race, ethnicity, or origin, please share here: (the answer will not be public)

White -German, Irish, Norwegian, Scottish


Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • New Jersey

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Elizabeth, NJ Union County

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • New Jersey

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Elizabeth NJ

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

We will reduce obesity rate of children birth to 5 years with a focus on low income residents of Elizabeth. 14.2% of New Jersey low-income children under the age of five are obese in Union County 16.4%. Elizabeth is a low income community 22.4% African American and 66.4% Hispanic which raises the % higher. The lever for change we identified was pregnant and new mom focus working with medical community we wanted to impact at the start of life
  • Educating in all places where children gather – schools, doctors’ offices, hospitals, recreation, homes & businesses
  • Changing the environment to increase access to health foods and physical activity
  • Investigate innovative successful models targeting low income communities such to educate and communicate through mobile messaging and videos in the top 5 languages spoken in Elizabeth

        To move toward healthy outcomes for all children for life.

Strategies would include:

  • Education and communication during prenatal care and new mothers
  • Small group support for parents/caregivers 0-5 years of age focus on new born to first year.
  • Support, education, communication and access for and about healthy nutrition from birth at clinics and hospitals
  • Engage medical staff that work with pregnant woman and caregivers of young children
  • Build trust with individuals through trusted sources
  • Meet people where they are at within their own enviornment
  • Parents/Caregivers of young children would be able to make the healthy choice the easy choice through improved information and increased access to affordable healthy choices.
  • Children eating and drinking healthier foods in all areas outlined
  • Obesity rate for pre-school children would not increase but remain stable or decline by 1% by 2020

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Child and Family Services
  • Education
  • Other

If you chose "other," please share the sector you work within here:

Medical Community

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Idea (poised to launch)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

The solution outlined is new. The Mobile Market was implemented in March 2016. Implementation planning began in 2015 through partners recognizing that each organization Community Food Bank of NJ, Housing Authority of Elizabeth, Trinitas RMC, YMCA, Nutritionist and Bayway Family Success Center could work together to support children and adults for healthy fresh foods access. Residents of Mrvalag Manor can receive fresh fruits and vegetables as well as healthy "staples" at the end of each month to supplement SNAP benefits and to "stretch" their dollars. By providing these foods residents have reported after 3 months that their families eat healthier and feel better.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

• Provided nutrient education to adults, students and parents – reaching over 250 people • Served over 45,000 pounds of food at Mobile Market to date • 254 residents enrolled for Mobile Market. Two Markets have served over 550 children and adults with healthy food and fresh vegetables and fruits. • 254 registration forms provided data on nutrition habits, physical activity and clinical care. Data will be used to prove additional education, screenings and physical activity support in the coming months. • 20 volunteer residents trained in food handling and manage Mobile Market with staff • 50 children attended Farm Camp – learned how fresh food is grown • 100 Pounds of fresh produce from the garden was distributed to YMCA residents and families • Three Healthy U schools received support for healthy eating and physical activity • Three Playstreets in 2015 serving over 450 resident

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • over $5mil

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Shaping Elizabeth is managed by The Gateway Family YMCA. As the backbone organization we provide administrative and fiduciary support. We resource a grant writer to look for funding opportunities. In addition the project outlined is part of the North Jersey Health Collaborative (NJHC) working with Atlantic Health. Partners of both Shaping Elizabeth and NJHC provide in kind and budget support as needed.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

We felt this project is innovative for several reasons: - Target audience is pregnant and new moms to address the concerns from the start - Collaborating with medical community - Elizabeth pediatrician on team and access to health clinic as well as WIC - High level of motivation from team members who have been advocates for community health and are educated in both community work and nutrition. - Shaping Elizabeth is a functioning healthy community team using collective impact model with a track record for success with members who can influence the community

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

We have seen a shift in the public education arena to be open to working outside their structure to support children's well-being. Seeing the impact of health on learning and emotional well-being. Research shows that healthy eating, physical activity and over well-being as well as support for the whole family have huge impact on the child's success in school. Educators are beginning to believe the connection and are more willing to work with community for the child's success.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

Attachments (1)

Hot Hot Hot May 26, 2016 #4.jpg

Blog report for Mobile Market and Playstreets to engage community in healthy eating and physical activity.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Brittany Lothe

Hi Alane McCahey - I enjoyed learning about your project. I understand your just starting out. As you refine your submission, consider using an example (if it's fictional) to describe a recipient's experience with the program. Also, I would really be interested to learn more about the competitive landscape. Good luck!  

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