Trenton Healthy Communities Initiative
The key objective of the Trenton Healthy Communities Initiative was to create a Health and Food Systems Master Plan Element (HFSE) to improve environmental conditions in the city, increase opportunities for city residents to engage in physical activity and improve residents’ access to healthy and affordable food choices. Background: There is growing consensus in both the planning and public health professions that the way we have designed our communities over the past 50-60 years plays an important role in determining health outcomes. While prior interventions have contributed to a drop in the transmission of infectious diseases, chronic health problems such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and asthma have become more prevalent.
Methods: This initiative provided an opportunity to expand health-focused planning and policy development across agencies throughout the city and statewide through knowledge transfer. The Trenton Healthy Communities Initiative used the City’s Trenton250 master plan update process to build linkages to on-going Trenton Health Team activities and to nurture and expand partnerships between planners, public health officials, community leaders and City residents. A Health in All Policies training developed and delivered to city decision-makers and staff by the Planning Healthy Communities Initiative at Rutgers-Bloustein helped to increase understanding regarding the health impacts of policy and planning decisions and promote a health-focus in local government decision-making by city departments, boards, and commissions. Knowledge transfer was promoted by developing a model Health-related master plan element for use by other jurisdictions and by developing a state-wide training module for local planners and health officials on integrating health considerations in other master plan elements and Health in All Policies.
Final Deliverables and Resources
The Health & Food Systems Element (HFSE), like all Master Plan Elements, is intended to guide land-use decisions and provide the basis for ordinances addressing Health in All Policy (HiAP) issues. For many communities, this element is a good first step at introducing health concepts into local planning documents. Ultimately, it is most effective when towns take the step of infusing a more holistic approach throughout each of their Master Plan Elements while ensuring consistency among elements and with the community’s overall vision.
In February 2014, the City of Trenton launched Trenton250, a process designed to comprehensively rewrite the City’s Master Plan. Trenton250 is Trenton’s long range Comprehensive Master Plan that will guide the City from now to the 250th Anniversary of its incorporation in 2042. In October of 2014, the City’s Planning Board unanimously adopted the Visioning Element of the Trenton250 Master Plan. The Vision Statement includes eight Guiding Principles that resulted from an 8-month long community engagement process. By the end of 2016, it is anticipated that Trenton will have in place a unified master plan in which six strategically important “Elements”– addressing economic development, land use, circulation, housing, environment, education and health–working together to provide a clear direction for achieving the City’s Vision and Guiding Principles.
Purpose of the Health and Food Systems Element: The Health and Food Systems Element is intended to provide a policy framework and action agenda for: expanding access to and uptake of healthy foods; increasing opportunities and pursuit of physical activity; improving health literacy and access to healthcare services; and addressing unhealthy housing conditions in the City. The element also highlights the relationship between health and other Trenton250 Master Plan elements. It is anticipated that implementation of the strategies described in the Health and Food Systems Element as well as the other Trenton250 Master Plan elements will lead to material changes in Trenton’s economic, social and physical environment over time, which will improve the health and wellness of Trenton residents. Legal Authority The New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law. The Health and Food System Element was developer in partnership with the City of Trenton’s Department and Division. You can view the training here.
Do you want to get more physically active, but can’t find any opportunities close enough to where you live and work to make it happen? Do you find that, once you get home from work for the day, you don’t feel like setting out again? This guide recognizes that convenience is important and is therefore organized around Trenton’s five planning districts: Downtown, North, East, South, and West, to help you find convenient opportunities.
Having access to nutritious choices is an important part of living a healthy life. The areas of focus for this toolkit include: My City, My Home, My Family, My Health, My Meals, and My Groceries. You can also view this guide in Spanish.
Fun For Kids
Coalition Members – Meet the Team
The Trenton Health Communities initiative is supported by a coalition between Rutgers University, APA’s New Jersey Chapter, Trenton’s Division of Planning, and the Trenton Health Team.
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
- Jen Senick, PhD, Executive Director, Rutgers Center for Green Building
- Jon Carnegie, Executive Director, Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center
- Tefera (Tito) Gezmu, Assistant Professor of Public Health, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
- Karen Lowrie, Associate Director, Environmental Analysis and Communications Group, firstname.lastname@example.org
- MaryAnn Sorensen Allacci, PhD, Research Project Coordinator, Rutgers Center for Green Building
- Cailean Carr, Research Manager, Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center
American Planning Association – New Jersey Chapter
New Jersey Public Health Association
City of Trenton
- Jeffrey Wilkerson, Principal Planner, City of Trenton’s Division of Planning
- James Brownlee, Health Officer, City of Trenton’s Division of Health and Vice President, Trenton Health Team
Trenton Health Team (Advisory Group)
- Martha Cook Davidson, Executive Director