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South Jersey Mayors' Healthy Cook-Off

see caption below

West Deptford, October 2, 2007 - A group of South Jersey Mayors gathered at the RiverWinds Community Center for a Mayors' Healthy Cook-Off. Shown above are winners (l-r) West Deptford Mayor Anna Docimo, winner of Best Tasting for "Penne Pasta;" Deptford Mayor Paul Medany, winner of Healthiest for "Broccoli and Chicken Salad;" and Harrison Township Mayor Mike Koestler, winner of Best Presentation for "Penne Shrimp and Broccoli." 

The South Jersey Mayors Healthy cook-off was sponsored by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, New Jersey League of Municipalities and Aetna.

Read more in article published in the Courier Post.

Press Release from Mayors Wellness Campaign:

For Immediate Release: October 3, 2007
Contact:  Donald Sico 609-351-3591 or Judy Doyle 609-393-4931



West Deptford – Local citizens crowded into the RiverWinds Community Center in West Deptford on the evening of October 2nd to watch mayors from 10 South Jersey towns square off in the region’s first-ever Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC) “Mayors Healthy Cook-Off.”

“Everyone was a winner,” said Judy Doyle, Director of the Mayors Wellness Campaign.  “It was a fun evening filled with a little nutrition education and physical fitness thrown in.  We are so grateful to all the mayors, our partners, the judges and the booth participants.”

The event was emceed by SoJO Radio (104.9 FM) morning show personality Marc Miller.  The popular South Jersey radio station also donated numerous door prizes. New Jersey State League of Municipalities Executive Director Bill Dressel was on hand to lend the League’s support.

A panel of judges, which included South Jersey Hot Chef President Robert Minniti, owner of Bacio Italian Cuisine in Cinnaminson; 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; Rhone Carr, President of the Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce & World Championship Chili Cook-Off Finalist; Chef George Cranmer, Director of Food & Nutrition Services at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital; Professor Betty Brown-Joynes, MS, RD, Camden County College Nutrition Program; and Patrick Young, President, Aetna Small and Middle Markets, awarded three mayors with special engraved gold platters as follows:

  • “Best Tasting” – West Deptford Mayor Anna Docimo for “Penne Pasta”
  • “Best Presentation” – Harrison Mayor Mike Koestler for “Penne Shrimp & Broccoli”
  • “Healthiest” – Deptford Mayor Paul Medany for “Broccoli & Chicken Salad”


Seven other towns participated, including: Woolwich Township Mayor Joe Chila (Baked Tilapia w/Spinach & Tomato Rice Salad), Magnolia Mayor BettyAnn Cowling-Carson (Cream Cheese Carrot Muffins), Camden Mayor Gwendolyn Faison (Turkey Meatballs), Swedesboro Mayor Tom Fromm (Venison Loin Medallions w/Squash), Logan Township Mayor Frank Minor (Shrimp & Chicken Stuffed Peppers), Eastampton Township Mayor Keith Nagler (Turkey London Broil with Grilled Asparagus and Onions), and Pennsauken Mayor Rick Taylor (Plank Roasted Sweet Soy Salmon).

The Mayors Healthy Cook-Off is sponsored by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (NJHCQI), New Jersey State League of Municipalities, Mayors Wellness Campaign and Aetna.  Funding for the cook-off was provided by the Aetna Foundation. Mr. Young from Aetna presented NJHCQI President and CEO David Knowlton with a $100,000.00 check at the event to support the MWC.

Seven local restaurants, members of the South Jersey “Hot Chefs,” each donated $50 gift certificates as door prizes: Tortilla Press and Water Lilly, both in Collingswood; Filomena Cucina Italiana in Clementon; Filomena Lakeview in Deptford; Grotticella in Williamstown; La Campagne in Cherry Hill; and, San Miguel Mexican Cuisine in Sewell.

Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center hosted a “Wellness Center” with free massages and blood pressure screenings. The Rutgers Cooperative Extension and Gloucester County 4-H are participating by hosting “Dance Dance Revolution.” Other participants include Bayada Nurses, the Burlington County Health Department, the Camden County Cancer Coalition, the Camden County Department of Health and Human Services, the Cooper Cancer Institute, the Gloucester County Cancer Coalition, Health-Watch and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

The Mayors Wellness Campaign is an initiative of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute ( in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities ( 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 the spring of 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. 





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