On August 28 and September 18, the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market (NBCFM) hosted successful COVID-19 vaccination clinics in partnership with Rutgers Global Health Institute, Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey, New Jersey Black Women Physicians Association, and New Brunswick Tomorrow. The clinics offered clients two vaccine choices: the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine, which was recently granted full FDA approval for administration to adults and children (12 years of age and older). Offering the Pfizer vaccine at the market gave parents in the community an opportunity to have their children vaccinated for the start of the school year, which is back in person.

As an incentive for taking the vaccine, the NBCFM offered a $10 voucher redeemable for fresh fruits and vegetables at the market to each person who was vaccinated on site. Lauren Errickson, a senior program administrator with Rutgers Cooperative Extension and coordinator of the NBCFM, notes that “Offering produce vouchers at the vaccination clinics is one more way the NBCFM is helping to make the important connection between food and health for our customers.”  The NBCFM also partners with Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Elijah’s Promise to run Veggie Rx, a fruit and vegetable prescription program for food insecure residents.

Angela Senger-Mersich, a senior program coordinator at Rutgers Global Health Institute, which launched its Equitable Recovery program last year, adds that “It is great to see entire families getting vaccinated, and taking home healthy produce is an added bonus.”

Now in its thirteenth year of operation, NBCFM has consistently expanded the ways in which the market serves to improve community health. The primary focus of the market is to increase fresh fruit and vegetable access to help reduce the risks of obesity and other chronic diseases in urban New Brunswick. However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the forefront other opportunities for the NBCFM to engage the community in promoting public health.

Founded in 2009, the NBCFM is a partnership between Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Johnson & Johnson, and the City of New Brunswick. It is open for the season through October 30 on Saturdays (9 a.m.–1 p.m.) and Tuesdays (10 a.m.–2 p.m.) at 178 Jones Avenue, and on Wednesdays (11 a.m.–3 p.m.) at 108 Albany Street.

This story was originally published by the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.