The Issue

Food for Thought is a collaborative endeavor spearheaded by the Greater Newark Community Advisory Board, RWJBarnabas Health and the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey, Rutgers University and community partners. Newark was voted the most stressed American city in 2017 with high rates of obesity and diabetes caused by the systemic issue of food insecurity. Total community food security involves making sure that all members of the community know about the connection between food and health and have access to affordable, healthy foods. As part of this effort, community members are involved in a participatory design research process documenting the availability of healthy food resources, and identifying opportunities to enhance Newark’s healthy and affordable food supply.

Design Research Methodology

STEP 1 Network and partner with organizational community partners to find youth citizen journalists.

STEP 2 Plan, design and conduct Workshop 1 on design thinking, systems thinking and citizen journalism/mobile-phone video production. Each youth group from a school/community organization received a media kit which includes a tripod, a microphone, a phone battery pack and headphones.

STEP 3 Citizen journalists identified and filmed with community stakeholders. Mentored the citizen journalists and filmed with them, while filming experts and urban agriculture with professional video crew.

STEP 4 Synthesize the footage collaboratively to identify key insights and narrative stories during Workshop 2, and plan the content of the documentary film.

STEP 5 Once film and visual assets were complete, collaborated with Harbour Workshops and client on producing facilitation guide, participants’ guide for community engagement screenings hosted by local organizational partners.


Created a long form documentary as well as a shorter documentary film with 25 citizen journalists between the ages of 12-21. Also created a trailer, short excerpts and a community facilitation guide in a screening kit for a series of Community Conversations that will (a) raise awareness about the importance of having access to high quality, affordable food; (b) collect community recommendations about what can be done to advance food security in Newark; and (c) create inspiration towards action steps.


As an outcome, the Greater Newark Advisory Community Board will use these insights to advise RWJBarnabas Healths’ Social Impact and Community Investment initiative on their multi- million dollar social impact investments to advance total food security in Newark.