Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bridging Gaps in Healthcare Accessibility: A Spotlight on Capital Health’s Community-Centric Approach

By Tanzim Didar 

Healthcare is a fundamental need; however, there are many inequities within the system. Almost 13 million people say they know a friend or family member who has died because they couldn’t afford care, according to CBS News.

According to HUD Archives: News Releases, on a single night in January 2020, 580,466 people, about 18 out of every 10,000 people, experienced homelessness across the U.S. — a 2.2% increase from 2019. 

Much of healthcare in the U.S. is not affordable and thus not given equally. However, there are many nonprofit clinics that are dedicated to addressing these disparities.

Katherine Stier, director of marketing and public relations for Capital Health, a nonprofit hospital located in east Trenton among other locations, shared her insights on nonprofits and how they help the community.

Capital Health’s main hospital, which is a level two trauma center, is located on Brunswick avenue in Trenton. They have an additional hospital in Hopewell, which is located across the street from the Trenton airport. 

“I handle the community education events at Capital Health,” Stier said. “I’ve been here for about seven years and Capital Health has been in Trenton for 50 to 80 years.”

Stier, who has worked in healthcare for 25 years, said 90% of hospitals are for profit. 

“As a nonprofit, we don’t really make money,” Stier said. “We always try to take in medicare and medicaid patients, because everyone has a right to care. We also have balance because there are people who have healthcare insurance and they pay, but when you walk into our emergency department, some individuals don’t have health insurance, so we work with individuals to tighten up on a paying system or government substance.”

Stier said Capital Health implements initiatives that helps sure each individual patient is receiving the care they need.

“All in all, we take care of everybody,” she said. “Some hospitals only take some kind of insurance or payers, letting them decide who they can take in or not, but we do not do that here.”

Given the demographics of Trenton, a lot of individuals do not have health insurance or may not be citizens, and are afraid to go to the hospital, so Capital Health tries to take care of many individuals and make them feel comfortable. 

“We also have a mother baby clinic where we take care of people, so there are a lot of different events and care given,” Stier said. “We run a food pantry every week through Arm and Arm and we go to different sites and hand out food. We are really involved in Trenton beauce the CEO is all about Trenton and the community. He feels that with the healthcare system, it’s really our basic goal to be the center of the city because if you’re healthy, you don’t need to go to our ER. We want to keep everyone healthy.”

Since its establishment, Capital Health’s mission statement has never changed. They have always been committed to serving the city of Trenton. 

“I’ve always been in healthcare,” she explained. “So, I started off at a children’s hospital, where 93% of every dollar went towards patient care, so patients don’t need insurance. I would see some of these children come in who were paralyzed and missing a limb, and they would leave with a prosthetic arm, leg at no cost and or even get back surgery, basically things that would help them live their life at a better quality.”

“For me, it’s always been an involved process,” Stier added.”I just see the good there is. The facility is always making sure individuals are fed and getting free screening they need. Some of our doctors are the most compassionate people I have ever met in my life. They give so much of their time and energy to work these free screenings, give lectures and make sure everyone receives what they need. If I can just tell their stories, then I have done my job.” 

Navigating Challenges and Building Bridges at Trenton Area Soup Kitchen

By Tanzim Didar 

In the heart of Trenton, a small but determined group of individuals has diligently been working on improving the community’s living conditions. These individuals are members of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, and their mission is to address local issues in the surrounding area. 

TASK is driven by a group of dedicated volunteers who feel compelled to address various community issues. Although their work may not be the most glamorous and their impact, while meaningful, may not take the spotlight, that is not their first priority anyway; they are more focused on the work they do behind the scenes.

According to TASK’s website, the organization served its first meal on January 13, 1982. The organization currently serves 9,000 meals per week at 36 locations near Trenton, and offers a wide variety of programs and  services to help encourage self-sufficiency and improve quality of life.

Patrons Services Specialist Evie Spadafora shared her thoughts and experiences, offering a glimpse into the complex realities faced by patrons.

“I work with volunteers, but the biggest part of my job is patron services. I meet with patrons who come to my window and ask me for everything from who they should talk to about an issue to needing socks or razors,” Spadafora said, describing the multifaceted nature of her role. Her office serves as a central hub where solutions are sought, and assistance is provided to those in need.

Spadafora’s connection with TASK dates back to her days as a girl scout leader.

“I would bring scouts over from Bucks County to do volunteer work,” she explained. Her commitment to community service persisted, leading her to a year of AmeriCorps service when a job transition presented an opportunity to work with TASK. Her journey highlights the diverse paths that bring individuals to serve in critical roles within community organizations like TASK.

The changing demographic landscape of Trenton has presented unique challenges, particularly in fostering cultural understanding.

“The biggest issue right now is cultural understanding,” She said. “The people who have lived in Trenton for years are seeing a sudden influx of Hispanic and central European people, and the languages charged along with the cultural challenges really are heightening people’s moods and the way they are reacting with each other.”

In response, TASK is actively addressing these challenges by incorporating different languages into its services.

“I have taken Spanish, and my French has also improved,” Spadafora notes, underscoring the organization’s commitment to inclusivity.

Spadafora’s personal experiences further shape her approach to demonstrating compassion towards patrons.

“I myself am an immigrant,” Spadafora said. “My parents are German, and I grew up speaking German. So, English is my second language, like a lot of the patrons that come to TASK.”

Her diverse background, including living in various parts of the U.S. and Germany, has exposed her to different cultures.

“I always realized that I am very blessed, but any one of us may need a soup kitchen at any time,” she said, emphasizing the universal vulnerability that transcends cultural and linguistic boundaries.

Spadafora’s work at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen goes beyond mere duty – it embodies a commitment to building bridges between communities, fostering cultural understanding, and providing essential support to those in need. With Spadafora’s guidance, TASK continues to serve as a beacon of hope in Trenton, bridging gaps and fostering a sense of community for all.

TASK has been involved in local charity work as well. They coordinate food drives and fundraisers to support local families in need. These initiatives have helped many residents put food on the table, even if only temporarily. Yet, the deep-rooted poverty issues in the area remain a formidable challenge.

Spadafora succinctly defines TASK’s mission: “We strive to create a welcoming environment where individuals can find not just a hot meal, but also a sense of community and dignity.”

She highlighted the transformative impact on the community.

“Our soup kitchen is not just about providing sustenance; it’s about restoring hope and fostering a sense of belonging,” she said. “We see faces light up when we serve a warm meal, and that, in itself, is a powerful form of outreach.”

Spadafora described the vital role volunteers play at TASK.

“Volunteers are the backbone of our organization,” she said. “They bring an extra layer of warmth and care to the dining experience. Whether serving meals or engaging in conversations, their dedication is truly invaluable. “

“Our mission is not just to feed the hungry but to nourish the soul. Through compassion, understanding, and a commitment to dignity, we aim to make a lasting impact on the lives of those we serve,” said Spadafora, marking TASK’s role as a source of hope, resilience and community in the heart of Trenton.

While their work may not be the solution to all the issues facing Trenton, it’s a reminder that every bit of help counts, even when it does not always make headlines.

TASK Launches Food Truck to Serve the Community

By Neyssa Deriphonse

In a significant move aimed at expanding their outreach and enhancing support for the Trenton community, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) has recently rolled out a brand new food truck initiative. This innovative project aims to address the evolving needs of the community and provide vital food assistance to those who may face barriers in accessing traditional meal sites. The Streetlight spoke with Paul Jensen, who oversees the day-to-day operations at TASK, and Max Gatto, the Food Truck Coordinator, to delve deeper into the motivations behind this initiative and its potential impact on the community.

The decision to introduce the food truck stemmed from the noticeable changes in different communities throughout the city. “One of our goals was to get to those communities that can’t get to the locations that we physically have,” Jensen said, highlighting the organization’s commitment to reaching those in need.

Gatto’s motivation to lead this endeavor stemmed from his passion for food security.

“I was coming in as a volunteer and found out about the position opening,” he said, reflecting on his dedication to addressing hunger in the community.

The new food truck, which is distinct from TASK’s delivery vehicles, will serve freshly prepared meals directly to individuals in need. Jensen emphasized the truck’s aim to reduce the distance individuals need to travel for a meal. “If we could cut that walk in half or more, it can still make a big difference,” he said, underscoring the organization’s commitment to accessibility and alleviating food insecurity.

Gatto envisions the truck not only as a source of nourishment, but also as a platform for education and awareness about TASK’s comprehensive services. 

“The first thing they’re going to think about is the food that we’re giving out, but there’s going to be a lot of education and spreading awareness,” he said, emphasizing the truck’s potential to foster a deeper understanding of the resources available to the community and empower individuals to access support beyond food assistance.

Regarding assessing the impact of this initiative, Jensen highlighted Gatto’s role in providing assistance in gathering feedback from the community. 

“Max will be out there in the community. Rosa will also come out with him as a community meal site coordinator. She will be helpful to Max as far as establishing metrics… and get information to measure if we’re kind of impacting or making a difference with the truck,” he said, illustrating TASK’s commitment to continuous improvement and responsiveness to the evolving needs of the community.

The collaboration with other organizations, such as Arm and Arm and Capital Health Hospital, underscores TASK’s commitment to community partnerships. 

“We’ve already started to work collaboratively with them (Arm and Arm), as well as with Capital Health as far as providing meals in areas of Trenton,” Jensen said.

Addressing concerns about cultural sensitivity, Paul stressed their dedication to accommodating diverse dietary needs. 

“We try to keep a good mix of different meals so everybody feels like there is something for them to eat,” he said.

Moreover, TASK remains committed to ongoing dialogue with community members to ensure that their dietary preferences and requirements are taken into account. 

“We welcome feedback from individuals and continuously strive to adapt our menu offerings to better meet the diverse needs of our community,” Jensen added, emphasizing the organization’s responsiveness to feedback and commitment to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment.

The food truck launched March 18. It represents a significant step forward in TASK’s mission to combat food insecurity and serve the Trenton community more effectively. With dedicated individuals like Jensen and Gatto at the helm, the initiative promises to make a tangible impact on the lives of those in need.

“Food is comfort for all cultures, it brings families together,” Jensen concluded. 

 

Children’s Home Society of New Jersey Accelerates Learning for Preschoolers

By Neyssa Deriphonse 

The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey (CHSofNJ), established in 1894, has had a long-standing mission to connect children with loving families, safeguard them from harm and assist parents in enhancing their parenting skills to maintain family unity. 

The vision is for every child to experience the security of a nurturing family environment, enjoy good physical and mental health, and thrive cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally. 

To fulfill this vision, CHSofNJ’s comprehensive programs encompass behavioral health and mental health services, permanency planning, community and neighborhood-based support, school-based initiatives, as well as early childhood and parent education services. 

They offer a spectrum of services, one of which is the Head Start and Early Head Start Programs (HS and EHS). These programs provide free quality and comprehensive early childhood education and services to children between the ages of three to five (Head Start) and zero to three (Early Head Start) at the HS and EHS Center or at their homes in Trenton, New Jersey. 

According to a press release published by Insider NJ,  the HS and EHS programs offer indoor and outdoor play space, an office for staff and nurse of the program, a community area, conference rooms, a laundry room and a kitchen with commercial appliances to prepare nutritious food for social events designed for “infants, toddlers, preschoolers and pregnant moms” participating in the programs.

Four of the organization’s sites are located in Trenton: 715 Bellevue Avenue, 1198 Southard Street, 794 East State Street and 1746 South Clinton Avenue.

Children in HS and EHS engage in interesting, interactive classes and activities that are intended to reinforce important developmental skills. The six main domains of cognitive, social-emotional, physical, linguistic, literacy and mathematical development are all addressed in CHSofNJ research-based curriculum for young children. Through CHSofNJ’s comprehensive services and individualized support, these six areas collectively establish a robust educational groundwork, equipping children for success not only in preschool but also in their future endeavors.

CHSofNJ collaborates with the Trenton Public Schools Office of Early Childhood to deliver the program. The Trenton Board of Education contributes funds to improve the kids’ educational experiences and strengthens the credentials of teachers by obtaining NJ State certification. Children with an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) can attend inclusion classrooms.

HS and EHS embody a trauma-informed perspective on children, families and services, which is similar to the rest of CHSofNJ programs. As Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have the potential to significantly impact conduct, overall well-being, developmental growth, cognitive processes and overall life satisfaction, CHSofNJ’s dedicated staff undergoes comprehensive training to proficiently comprehend and provide essential support for children navigating through ACEs. The existence of trauma in the lives of parents, guardians, and other family members is also acknowledged by the team. In order to ensure comfortability and establish a reliable working relationship with families, every interaction is treated with respect and consideration.

“The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey Early Head Start program is proud to provide these important early childhood education services in Trenton, and we are thrilled to now expand our reach to serve families in Hamilton as well,” Isaac Dorsey, the Executive Director of CHSofNJ Head Start/Early Head Start, said in the press release. Since 2021, parents in Hamilton enroll their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers to take advantage of the accelerated learning program, HS and EHS.

“We are truly grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Cities of Trenton and Hamilton in our mission of saving children’s lives and building healthy families,” Dorsey said. “Investing in the education of preschoolers will benefit families, communities, and the world.”

Fran’s Pantry Distributes Resources at HomeFront

By Tori Duym

Local Mercer County shelter and resource center HomeFront continues providing necessities to individuals experiencing homelessness. Fran’s Pantry offers ample opportunities to get supplies such as food and hygiene products for no cost. 

The pantry is located in Lawrenceville and is open on Monday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

Fran’s Pantry was opened as a result of the pandemic and is named after a major contributor and volunteer at HomeFront. It has proven to be a huge success, as it is beloved by many community members. The pantry provides countless opportunities for individuals who may lack access to food or hygiene products otherwise. 

According to Dylan O’Neill, HomeFront’s resource network director, the organization is on the lower end of the spectrum as far as requirements in order to receive access to the products and services. No documentation is needed; simply any type of photo ID is acceptable as a new client. Filling out a few forms to help better understand each individual’s unique needs is also requested upon first access to Fran’s Pantry. Clients are able to receive goods from the pantry starting that same day after filling out the forms. 

Fran’s Pantry reaches about 150 to 200 individuals per day, according to O’Neill, based on the data gathered by staff and volunteers. “Our pantry processes a client every five to eight minutes,” O’Neill continues. Ultimately, the pantry provides food for 5,000 to 7,000 individuals monthly.

Food is not the only resource available to those who may need to utilize Fran’s Pantry. Diapers, feminine hygiene products, backpacks, bedding, kitchen supplies and even furniture are often distributed to families or individuals as well. 

With the holidays approaching, HomeFront is kicking their efforts into high gear. Their annual Thanksgiving drive provides a turkey dinner to 300-400 families, as well as their Christmas drive to provide gifts for as many families as possible. HomeFront works with parents and provides two gifts up to $75 dollar value for each child in the family for Christmas.

While the language barrier has become a growing concern, Fran’s Pantry is equipped with several bilingual volunteers. According to O’Neill, only about 10% of clients speak English, making these staff members’ skills extremely useful. 

The pantry has received over 2.6 million dollars in donations over the past year and was able to distribute them throughout the community to those in need. HomeFront’s mission is to “pull families out of the cycle of poverty,” O’Neill said, as Fran’s Pantry has made strides toward accomplishing this goal. 

Dylan O’Neill touched upon the subject of decreasing resources as time passes and COVID-19 fades into the past. The governmental benefits are ceasing to continue, so HomeFront is working around the clock to provide all of the resources needed for individuals in the Mercer County community. Poverty has become a serious issue according to O’Neill, but they are working very hard to turn this around and support all community members.

Fran’s Pantry has grown into an extremely useful resource for the community. Contact HomeFront at homefront@homefrontnj.org or (609) 989-9417 with any questions or if you or anyone you know may benefit from their resources. 

SewingSpace to Expand Program Through Community Initiatives

By Alexus Twyman

Located in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, SewingSpace is hoping to spread awareness of their mission to “empower the underprivileged” through various initiatives they host throughout the year. Originally created as an offshoot of HomeFront’s ArtSpace, SewingSpace has grown into its own as a program over the years, serving local patrons and the wider Lawrenceville community.

Originally formed in 2013, SewingSpace gradually developed throughout the years, providing a host of experiences to patrons. SewingSpace has offered lifelong benefits, teaching participants multiple sewing techniques in addition to helping them develop their own skill sets.

The program has been refined over the years, with the addition of beginner and intermediate classes to address the needs of the growing number of participants. At the start of their sewing journey, participants undergo an eight week training course to learn the essentials of the craft.  

SewingSpace participant Marta R. models her handcrafted dress (Photo courtesy of Ruthann Traylor).

As the director of SewingSpace, Ruthann Traylor, a resident of Princeton, has overseen personal growth in many patrons over the years. She notes the “joy” in participants’ expressions after accomplishing their creative goals as a motivation for continuing her work.

Originating from a small space, the program grew over one to two days, with participation in the program “unexpected” and “life changing,” according to Traylor. Increased awareness of SewingSpace’s work allowed for the program to obtain funding from donors and grants, which has greatly benefitted the participants’ experiences.

The popularity of SewingSpace, according to Traylor, is due to the “nurturing” environment the program creates, with support from volunteers and staff members forming a “safe haven to come and create.” The development of SewingSpace’s program began through listening to the needs of clients, which “compelled [the program] to keep growing for the community,” says Traylor. 

The effects of sewing are “equally as therapeutic as art” and “empowering” to participants, Traylor said. According to the National Library of Medicine, the effects of art therapy can go beyond simply crafting a new item. In a 2018 study, researchers uncovered art therapy’s links to improved self-awareness and increased self-esteem.

Clients create a variety of bags, pillows, outfits and other items, with the ability to keep them afterwards. Traylor recognizes that “pillows can be a luxury item” for many clients at SewingSpace and encourages patrons to decide whether to keep or sell their pieces on their own terms.  

An important aspect of SewingSpace’s program is to enable patrons to discover their own confidence and strength through art, creating tangible expressions of emotion. Throughout the crafting process, participants have the opportunity to sell their items if they choose, receiving a portion of the proceeds from the sale.  

Since the establishment of the program, SewingSpace has increased in scale over the years, growing from owning six sewing machines in 2013 to handling over eighteen machines today. According to Traylor, one of the highlights of managing the program has been witnessing the personal growth and  “pride of sewing students when they walk down the runway” at SewingSpace’s fashion shows.

Recently, SewingSpace has begun hosting events to garner more community-wide support, such as their Saturday Summer Series and Camp Mercer Teen Sewing Program last summer. Events run by SewingSpace strengthen community bonds, alongside the program’s dedication to “upcycling and recycling” materials when crafting new products, says Traylor.  

Ultimately, SewingSpace’s program serves to encourage patrons to develop sewing skills and self-confidence along their journey. The program provides a safe space for self-expression through art, enabling clients to discover themselves and their passions to create art. Most of all, Traylor encourages clients to stop by SewingSpace and “come learn about us” through the program’s frequent open houses, and to explore their limitless possibilities. 

Art on the Move: HomeFront’s New Mobile Initiative Fosters Creativity in Underserved Communities

By Rebecca Heath

In an effort to engage and enrich children and families living in under-resourced Mercer County communities, HomeFront recently unveiled “Artie the ArtSpace Mobile.”

HomeFront’s ArtSpace fosters a safe environment for individuals who have experienced homelessness to express creativity, according to the organization’s website.

The nonprofit, which is based in Ewing and managed by Ruthann Traylor, facilitates therapeutic art programs and seeks to empower clients by offering a number of opportunities throughout the year to showcase their skills.

ArtSpace’s new mobile initiative was developed to educate potential clients about the organization’s programs and support services. Chock-full of supplies and clients’ artwork, the vibrant truck will also host hands-on activities for children while serving as a pop-up shop to benefit HomeFront artists.

The journey of bringing Artie to life involved collaborative efforts, said Traylor, who worked alongside local graphic designers Barbara DiLorenzo and Kim Moulder, in addition to Leigh Visual Imaging, to make her vision a reality.

“The process for creating Artie was brewing for a few years,” Traylor said. “Once we received the grant and the truck was donated we worked with a few local designers to help us create our vision.”

The innovative art truck currently partners with community-minded businesses to collect art supplies, and hosts company team-building workshops as part of ArtSpace’s corporate engagement efforts.

Artie is also slated to travel to HomeFront properties and motels to serve families experiencing homelessness, in addition to arts and music festivals, community events, summer camps, craft fairs, schools, day care centers and after-school programs for disadvantaged youth, according to the organization’s website.

An Update on the Covid Restrictions

By: Brie Wells

Update on the Covid Restrictions

As the anniversary of the Covid 19 pandemic rounds the corner, many Americans are questioning what the future will look like as vaccine rollout continues across the United States and covid regulations relax. With vaccine rollout expanding to child care workers, transportation workers, and additional public safety workers in the state of New Jersey as of March 15th, many wonder when the state can continue to reopen and students can start going back to school. According to New Jersey Covid 19 Informational Hub, New Jersey is in Stage 2 of Governor Murphy’s reopening plan. In stage 2 moderate risk activities are allowed to restart and all New Jerseyans are advised to wear a face covering and to participate in social distancing. New Jerseyans are also advised to work from home if it is feasible to do so. Since June 15th, 2020 relaxation of restrictions has been declared from the governor’s office, with the newest being announced March 19th, 2021, which states that the limit on general indoor gatherings increases to 25 people and increases the limit to general outdoor gatherings to 50 people according to Executive Order 225.

With the relaxation of restrictions continuing, many are questioning if Governor Murphy will take the lead of other states and radically lessen Covid 19 restrictions.  On March 2, 2021, the Texas Governor, Gregg Abott, issued Executive Order (GA-34), which lifted the mask mandate in Texas and increased the capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100 percent. Similarly, in Mississippi, Governor Tates issued Executive Order 1549 on March 3rd, 2021 in which the mask mandate would be lifted in Mississippi. Other states such as Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut also continue to lift restrictions on restaurants and other businesses as vaccine rollout continues. According to the CDC Covid Data tracker, 127 million vaccines have been administered in the United States and the amount of Covid 19 cases have been decreasing generally in the past nine weeks. Although Covid 19 cases are generally declining, the CDC has advised against the rapid relaxation of restrictions in states like Texas and Mississippi. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control, said in a briefing on March 3rd,2021 that “We at the CDC have been very clear that now is not the time to release all restrictions.” She also went on to state that “The next month or two is really pivotal with how this pandemic goes as we scale up vaccinations, we really do need to decrease the amount of the virus that is circulating as we are trying to vaccinate all of the public.”

Seemingly Governor Murphy is following in the footsteps of the CDC and other states as he remains cautionary about reopening. In an interview with CNN, Governor Murphy stated “My guess is we won’t be opening up further capacities for some time now because of the caseload.” He then went on to say “We are back to leading the nation in the spread of this virus…” and, “We want to do this safely, responsibly, we don’t want to ever have to go back.” At this time New Jerseyans can expect restrictions to stay in place and should continue to hope that with more vaccine rollout and stricter control of variants within the Garden State, that it will hopefully lead to the arrival of Stage 3 on the road back to normalcy.

Update 

As the summer approaches Covid 19 vaccination rates continue to increase across the United States. According to the CDC, as of June 3rd, 2021  169,090,262 doses of the vaccine have been given out in the United States. In the state of New Jersey, according to the New Jersey Department of Health 8,755,436 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the State of New Jersey and the rates will continue to increase as the Governor continues to push New Jerseyans to get vaccinated. As vaccination rates increase and mask mandates restrictions relax, New Jersyeans can expect the arrival of Stage 3 of Governor Murphy’s Covid 19 Relief plan to be near in the distant future.

Food Insecure in the Garden State

By: Zion Lee

In 2020, America’s Health Rankings United Health Foundation reported that New Jersey was the third most food insecure state in the U.S. preceded by New Hampshire and Hawaii. Such disparity presented by the data is concerning as, despite New Jersey being reported as amongst the top three richest states in the U.S., a portion of its population is struggling with food insecurity. Food insecurity, lacking the ability to financially access food resources, is a major concern that has a widespread impact. Not only does food insecurity affect the basic needs of those affected, but many individuals will see an increase in risk for food insecurity. Food insecurity does not discriminate as those who are living below or above the poverty line and who are impacted by specific environmental conditions such as where individuals were born, live, work, and learn, factors known as social determinants, are all susceptible to the issue.

 This inequity must be addressed as obtaining one’s daily nutritional requirements is imperative to not only maintaining physical health, but also cognitive health as supported by the CDC. While food insecurity deals with food and hunger, there are other factors that can contribute and be exacerbated by food insecurity, including health and quality of life. The basic needs of individuals must be met in order to increase the quality of life and provide them with the time and ability to address the complexities of life such as maintaining a job, supporting ones’ family, enriching ones’ social life, and prevent serious debilitating medical issues that can lead to further complications as food insecurity prevails.

If you or someone you know is impacted by food insecurity in Mercer County, The Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (72 Escher St, Trenton, NJ 08609),  Arm in Arm (123 E Hanover St, Trenton, NJ 08608), and various other sites in The Streetlight Resource Guide are able to help provide you with resources and food.  Together, we can work towards ensuring food security.  

Source Link: https://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/understand-food-insecurity/

Vaccine Availability In Mercer County

By: Zion Lee

For more than a year, the global COVID-19 pandemic has led to millions of people contracting the virus, becoming ill, and in some cases, dying. However, thanks to modern medicine, there are currently three types of COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized for large-scale clinical trials in the United States. These vaccines help the recipients’ bodies develop immunity to the virus without having to catch the illness. The mRNA vaccines, protein subunit vaccines, and vector vaccines help give our bodies the ability to recognize the virus if COVID-19 is ever contracted. It is important to note that none of the vaccines can give you COVID-19, but instead they help your immune system in the event that you should ever get COVID-19. 

Governor Phil Murphy announced that those experiencing homelessness, in addition to those who are currently in domestic violence and homeless shelters, are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on March 15th, which since has past. Soon after, Governor Phil Murphy announced that everyone over the age of 16 are eligible to be vaccinated.  The COVID-19 vaccine does not cost the recipient any money and will not require individuals to pay any coinsurance, deductibles, or copay. In fact, the vaccine is available regardless of whether or not you possess health insurance coverage or not.  Some places that are offering vaccination appointments are Capital Health System- Hopewell, CURE Arena Trenton, Henry J Austin Health Center, Hunterdon Family & Sports Medicine at Hopewell Valley, Mercer County Community College, Rite Aid in Trenton, Riverside Urgent Care of Ewing, Robert Wood Johnson Hamilton, ShopRite Hamilton, and ShopRite Pennington. After being vaccinated, your immune system will be prepared to fight the virus. However, even after being vaccinated, The Streetlight suggests that everyone continues to exercise caution and follow CDC guidelines.

 

The CDC has more information regarding how the vaccine works if you’re interested.

 

Vaccine Registration Questions? The New Jersey COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center operates daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 855-568-0545