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BUILD Grant Supports Coordinated Response to Food Insecurity

Trenton, NJ — Trenton Health Team recently received a grant from The BUILD Health Challenge® (BUILD) Rapid Response Fund to support work by more than 35 local agencies collaborating to provide healthy food to those in need, and improve the city’s food system.

“Access to fresh, healthy, affordable food is a critical issue in Trenton. Decades of disinvestment have left much of the city a food desert,” said THT Executive Director Gregory Paulson. “This already challenging situation has been made worse by the Coronavirus pandemic.”

THT convened the Trenton Food Stakeholders group in February 2019 to improve food access and nutrition across the city. Recently, the group has been confronting an increased need for food prompted by the health and economic crisis related to COVID-19.

Community agencies, including food pantries, social service providers and farm markets, are sharing resources, identifying gaps in food access and information, creating new connections between different parts of the food supply and distribution network to fill those gaps, mobilizing resources to fill immediate supply and capacity needs and coordinating information between organizations and the public.

BUILD Health Challenge supports projects that are Bold, Upstream, Integrated, Local and Data-Driven. As a BUILD partner, THT previously collaborated with community partners to develop a “Safe & Healthy Corridor” along Brunswick Avenue and improve the surrounding neighborhood.

An innovative funding collaborative and award program, The BUILD Health Challenge is contributing to creation of a new norm in the U.S. BUILD is putting multi-sector, community-driven partnerships at the center of health to reduce health disparities caused by system-based or social inequity.

The BUILD Health Challenge created the $90,000 Rapid Response grant program to support partners working to improve community health across the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. The relatively small awards — THT received $3,000 — support targeted local projects already underway.

For example, Trenton Food Stakeholders partners earlier this year collaborated to create the Trenton Area Free Food Resource, listing programs serving children, seniors, families and adults. An interactive map allows users to find nearby food sites, while a calendar function enables them to set reminders for food distribution events.

“COVID-19 has caused unemployment, closed schools and disrupted school meal programs — which puts families at risk and creates more need for food in our community,” Paulson noted. “This online resource makes it easy to find the food assistance you need.”

The Food Stakeholders also are planning a food needs survey to gauge the extent of food insecurity in Trenton, with results expected to guide actions to better meet the community’s food and nutrition needs. For more information, contact THT Community Health and Wellness Manager Matthew Broad.

Trenton Food Stakeholders is a working group of THT’s Community Advisory Board including more than 99 organizations and 220 individuals. The CAB convenes regularly to share information, brainstorm solutions and co-design interventions enhancing health and well-being. To learn more, please contact THT Partnership Coordinator Stephanie Doering.