Belleville cited as ‘Healthy Town to Watch’

Belleville has been recognized for its commitment to creating a healthier place to live through initiatives that address food insecurity, support COVID-19 testing and vaccinations and promote physical and mental health.

The township has received “Healthy Town to Watch” status in the annual statewide Mayors Wellness Campaign.

The campaign is a program of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.

Belleville was one of seven towns across the state to be designated as a 2021 Healthy Town to Watch.

Eight towns received the top designation, “Healthy Town Winners,” and 17 received the “Healthy Towns Up-and-Coming.”

“Belleville is proud to have earned this designation,” Mayor Michael Melham said. “It is an especially impressive achievement when you consider how the COVID-19 pandemic has so greatly interrupted our lives. We have remained dedicated to finding ways to promote healthy lifestyles in our great township and creating a healthier and better Belleville in 2022.”

Melham says Belleville proved in 2021 that it takes a village to create a healthy town.

Though a partnership with the school district, Belleville addressed food insecurity that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic by offering free meals to students and seniors.

For the township’s youth, there were many recreational opportunities. For instance, Belleville is one of an increasingly smaller number of municipalities to offer free recreational programs.

Belleville’s seniors were encouraged to get up and get moving through initiatives such as free yoga classes offered at the Senior Center.

Belleville also enlisted the help of community partners to promote health.

Clara Maass Medical Center, meanwhile, was a leader in organizing COVID-19 vaccination and booster shot efforts.

Also, Signature Fitness helped sponsor the brisk stroll down Washington Avenue for dozens of our municipal employees in honor of National Walking Day and the subsequent yoga sessions — an initiative spearheaded by Belleville Councilman Vinny Cozzarelli.

Families were encouraged to seek out healthier lifestyles through events such as Street Yoga Under the Cherry Blossoms session or the community bike ride that was organized by the Belleville Police Department.

One of the most eagerly awaited healthy initiatives was the creation of the first township community garden. Created by the Township’s Green Team, the garden not only aligns with Sustainable Jersey’s mission, but also produces healthy fruits and vegetables for residents.

“The community garden and the township’s first Community Green Fair were big hits in 2021,” Gabrielle Bennett-Meany, a member of the Green Team, said. “With preliminary planning for the township’s first farmers market, we have already turned our attention to creating an even healthier Belleville in 2022.”

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