Wellness van gives residents an education in healthy eating

RWJBarnabas Health’s Wellness on Wheels van is traveling statewide, equipping everyone from kids to seniors with knowledge about nutrition, gardening and how healthy foods like fruits and vegetables affect their health. In a country where millions of people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, it’s an important service.

Onboard the mobile greenhouse and cooking school is a registered dietitian, whose guests on one particular day included the students of Barringer High School. They were tasked with carrying fresh romaine lettuce from the the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center’s Hydroponic Greenhouse to the van, where it was prepped, cooked and eventually eaten.

RWJBarnabas Health, an underwriter of NJTV News, partnered with MedPro Wellness along with other local businesses to offer the free service, and now, celebrating its first birthday, the van has welcomed about 13,000 people onboard.

“We actually need to transform how people think about their health, it’s not about treating episodic illness, it’s about prevention,” said Darrell K. Terry, Senior President and CEO of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey.

Moving forward, RWJBarnabas Health looks to turn the van into a mobile farmer’s market, potentially working with local farmers to fill the van with fresh fruits and vegetables for purchase.