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For Immediate Release: September 7, 2007
Contact:  Donald Sico 609-351-3591 or Judy Doyle 609-393-4931

SOUTH JERSEY “HOT CHEFS” LEND SUPPORT TO MAYORS HEALTHY COOK-OFF

FIVE NEW MAYORS SIGN UP FOR EVENT SLATED FOR OCTOBER 2ND IN WEST DEPTFORD

West Deptford – The South Jersey version of the Mayors Healthy Cook-Off is taking off as the South Jersey “Hot Chefs” have lent their support to the effort and five new mayors have agreed to participate, bringing the total to nine mayors with a month to go before the event.

Mayors from across South Jersey are gearing up to compete in New Jersey’s second Mayors Wellness Campaign “Mayors Healthy Cook-Off” beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday October 2nd at the RiverWinds Community Center in West Deptford.  Eighteen mayors participated in the first event held in Parsippany on June 6th.

Camden Mayor Gwendolyn Faison, Harrison Township Mayor Mike Koestler, Port Republic City Mayor Gary Giberson, Woolwich Mayor Joe Chila, Logan Mayor Frank Minor, West Deptford Mayor Anna Docimo, Deptford Mayor Paul Medany, Pennsauken Mayor Rick Taylor and Swedesboro Mayor Tom Fromm have already pledged to participate.  The Mayors Wellness Campaign expects as many as two dozen mayors from across the southern part of the state to compete in three categories: “Healthiest,” “Best-Tasting,” and “Best Presentation.”

The South Jersey Hot Chefs (www.sjhotchefs.com), have also lent their support to the Mayors Healthy Cook-Off.  The group represents 41 restaurants and was created “to raise the public’s awareness of the excellent dining opportunities available in South Jersey through a collective effort by the areas top independent restaurants."  SJ Hot Chef President Robert Minniti, owner of Bacio Italian Cuisine in Cinnaminson, will serve as a celebrity judge.  The group is also donating gift certificates good at local restaurants as a door prize.

Joining Chef Robert as celebrity judges are National Football League veteran tight end Fred Baxter, a former player for the NY Jets and New England Patriots (with whom he won a Super Bowl) and who now plays for the Washington Redskins; George Cramner, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Our Lady of Lourdes Health System in Camden; Patrick Young, President, Aetna Small and Middle Markets; and a representative of the Camden County College nutrition program.

On-air personalities from Radio Station SoJO (104.9 FM) will also be on hand to emcee the event.

The Mayors Healthy Cook-Off is sponsored by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, New Jersey State League of Municipalities, Mayors Wellness Campaign and Aetna.  Funding for the cook-off was provided by the Aetna Foundation.

 “Everyone is really a winner at these events,” said Judy Doyle, Director of the Mayors Wellness Campaign.  “It is really a fun evening filled with a little nutrition education and physical fitness thrown in.  We hope many South Jersey mayors will find the time to cook up their healthiest dish and be a part of this special event.”

The Mayors Wellness Campaign is an initiative of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (www.njhcqi.org) in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities (www.njslom.org). Major funding has been provided by Aetna and BeneCard.  Additional funding has been provided by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, St. Francis Hospital, Robert Wood Johnson Hospital – Hamilton, Johnson & Johnson, Pennoni Associates, Pfizer and Bayville Holdings, LLC. The Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, the Regional Plan Association and the Ramapo College Nursing Program were instrumental in the research and development of the MWC during its initial stages.

The MWC supports mayors as champions of community health.  The goal is to increase opportunities for New Jersey residents to participate in daily physical activity with a long-term goal of reducing health care costs secondary to obesity.  Through public-private partnerships, the MWC provides structure and resources for healthy community initiatives.  By encouraging mayors to play a leadership role in supporting local opportunities for active, healthy lifestyles, the intent of the MWC is to improve health and make New Jersey a national leader in community-based health interventions.

In 2006, each of the 566 mayors in New Jersey’s municipalities were mailed the MWC “Toolbox,” a manual designed to guide them through the implementation of wellness programs in their communities.  Broken down into four major sections – Youth in Motion; Employees in Motion; Seniors in Motion; and Communities in Motion – the Toolbox outlines programs that can be directly used in every community in New Jersey.  The Toolbox can also be found on the MWC website.

Mayors and sponsors who wish to participate should contact Mayors Wellness Campaign Director Judy Doyle at 609-393-4953 or by email at jdoyle@njhcqi.org.

 

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