American Planning Association
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.