The Ready, Set, Healthy! Highlight Report—the Best of the Best

May 13, 2021

The Ready, Set, Healthy! Highlight Report showcases the unique partnership between Novo Nordisk and the NJ YMCA State Alliance, as well as nine local partners, the Trenton School District and residents, to support building a culture of health around young people in Trenton. 

With one full-service grocery store for its 84,000 residents, food insecurity and nutrition-related chronic diseases are a concern for the Trenton, New Jersey community. Limited access to healthy, affordable foods and few options for safe physical activity led to the capital city having one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in NJ.

The RSH! initiative focused on empowering and inspiring students in Trenton schools to eat better, be more active and live healthier lives. 

The report showed how a community working together can result in 40,600 hours of student engagement in nutrition, cooking and gardening education. 

Increasing Physical Activity

A number of programs inspired children to get active with fun physical activities in safe environments that create habits that support lifelong health and well-being. 

  • The College of New Jersey’s SNACK 2.0 program offered kids incentives to encourage and nurture a love of physical activity. 
  • GoNoodle’s short, interactive videos and computer games taught kids about moving and exercising. 

Nearly 650 students participated in the programs generating over 13,999 hours of physical activity. 

Accessing Affordable Healthy Food

  • The Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County’s Triple Play opened a garden and outdoor play space, where kids can learn and grow vegetables to be used in healthy cooking classes. 
  • Isles’ hands-on cooking activity emphasized student participation and transformed a classroom of nine-year-old kids from spinach skeptics to spinach lovers. 
  • Trenton cooking lab students cooked and sampled recipes and their popular Mixed Bean Vegetarian Chili is on school menus now, thanks to Wellness in the Schools and Aramark, Trenton School District’s food service vendor.
  • Trenton’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative and Capital Area YMCA’s Greenwood Ave. Farmers Market are community hubs where residents have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, health information and screenings with visiting health experts.
  • The Food Trust’s weekly Heart Smarts lessons encouraged Corner Stores’ longtime customers to eat nutritious foods and explore new recipes. Now healthy options, such as low-fat yogurt and cut watermelon as on-the-go snacks, are offered. 

“The success of the RSH! program is a testament to the impact that a collective partnership can have when local organizations, the Trenton School District, and residents work towards a common goal--we are truly better together,” said Jackie Bavaro, MPH, Sr. State Program Coordinator.

The RSH! Report also details how program partners shifted their efforts when COVID-19 hit to respond to the needs of families and students. Novo Nordisk grant dollars were reallocated so RSH! and other Trenton nonprofits could provide much-needed emergency response services during the pandemic.  Working with seven grantees, NJYMCA supported over 5,100 Trenton residents by providing 46,000 pounds of food, and services that included assistance with rent/utility payments, and virtual education support/tutoring.

“Novo Nordisk is proud to have supported the RSH! Program, as it ties into our long-standing commitment to improve health outcomes and make life better for children and their families. With our shared goals of positively impacting diverse communities through obesity and diabetes prevention, fitness, nutrition and community-building: Novo Nordisk and the RSH! Partners worked to ensure children and their families have the tools and resources to create social and physical environments that foster healthy communities,” said Genevieve Jean-Bart Fadayomi, Associate Director, Corporate Sustainability and Social Impact.

Click here to read the full RSH! Highlights Report