Live54218 began as a challenge from the Green Bay Press-Gazette to its readers across Brown County - how could we think boldly about changing our community? The overwhelming response from the community was to address the growing childhood obesity epidemic. With the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce leading the charge, teams of community members and a broad cross-section of partners met throughout 2010 to review existing local and national programs and the evidence base to determine how to achieve our vision of making Brown County the community where the healthiest kids in America are raised.
Recognizing that we needed to focus not only on our kids, but more so on changing our entire community, Live54218 was created around simple recommendations we could all live every day. Our mission is to create environments in the community that support and promote all residents daily in consuming 5 fruits and vegetables, drinking 4 bottles of water, having less than 2 hours of screen time, and participating in at least 1 hour of physical activity, and sleeping 8 hours a night.
*Live54218 is part of a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organzation. Any donations made to Live54218 are tax-deducitble*
Learn more about our efforts in our updated Strategic Plan!
Live54218 has just published our second annual Partners' Report! Similar to an annual or donor’s report, the report details our work throughout the past fiscal year and our plans for the future!
Live54218 not only works in Brown County, but also partners with organizations across Wisconsin to strengthen the statewide movement for obesity prevention. To learn more, check out the recently released WI Department of Health Services Obesity Prevention State Plan
Visit the Department of Health Services to find out more!
To understand more about how Live54218 operates and how Brown County can bring about large-scale social change as it pertains to the obesity epidemic, download:
To learn more about how Live54218 originally began in 2010 as 'Greater Green Bay: Where Kids Count' and see the original taskforce members, download:
The Live54218 Executive Committee
John Dye, Chair
Aaron Popkey, Green Bay Packers
Amber Paluch, Green Bay Press-Gazette
Lori Lutey, Schneider
Sue Weyers, Schreiber Foods Inc.
Regan Gurung, UWGB
Gail McNutt, Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes
Diane Roundy, Schenck SC
Brian Danzinger, Green Bay City Council
Patty Hoeft, Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin
Carla Buboltz, Wrightstown Community School District
The Live54218 Team
Jen Van Den Elzen, Director
Jen earned degrees in Biology and Spanish at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire before moving to Atlanta, GA to complete her Master of Public Health at Emory University. Jen is dedicated to community-based obesity prevention and believes strongly in coordinating our efforts across the state for the maximum positive impact throughout Wisconsin. She is responsible for overall management and administration of Live54218 and strives to work collaboratively with organizations and individuals countywide. Through her efforts as the Director of Live54218, Jen aspires to make Brown County the healthiest community in the nation.
Melinda Morella, Assistant Director
Melinda Morella graduated from St. Norbert College in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and went on to teach bilingual kindergarten in Green Bay. Upon completing her Master of Science in Education degree in 2010, she became a bilingual literacy coach. In her current role, Melinda uses her strong background in education to increase community outreach and education efforts. She works closely with schools, serving on school wellness teams, and organizing events in partnership with community organizations. She also engages in media advocacy to advance the organizational vision and mission and utilizes national and state level resources and evidence base to provide strategic direction to community based efforts to address policy, systems, and the built environment regarding obesity prevention. Melinda hopes that all residents in Brown County will have the structure and support in place to Live54218 every day!
Ashley Ponschok, Farm to School Coordinator
Ashley graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, and she recently accepted the Brown County Farm to School Coordinator position making her the newest member of the Live54218 team. Everyone wins with Farm to school! Children acquire the skills necessary to make healthy food choices; once established - schools save money and increase meal participation, and the farming market expands and keeps money in the local economy. Ashley’s job involves getting fresh, local food into Green Bay area schools and getting kids excited again about eating fruits and vegetables. By acting as the liaison between School Food Service and local producers, Ashley will help ease the process of getting the freshest food possible onto the lunch tray. She is here to assist and provide resources for bringing nutrition education into schools through Harvest of the Month activities in the cafeteria and classrooms, school gardening, and field trips to local farms.
Deb Johnson, Nutrition Educator
Deb Johnson graduated from UW-Whitewater with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Welfare and UW-Milwaukee with a Master of Science in Administrative Leadership in Education. Before she and her husband relocated their family to the Green Bay area, she managed a volunteer program at a residential treatment center for boys in Milwaukee. Upon settling in DePere, she began working with children in various capacities. Healthy eating has always been an interest of Deb’s and she has been fortunate to be able to help children develop that interest through cooking classes since 2006. Her current role as Nutrition Educator in our area’s elementary schools allows her to combine her experience and passion for working with children with her passion for good nutrition.
Catherine Smith, Community Engagement Specialist
Catherine Smith graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point in May of 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Arts Management and a double minor in Business Administration and Communications. Catherine has held multiple internships throughout her college career both in Stevens Point and London, England, through a study abroad program. During these internships she has gained experience in marketing campaigns, social media management, public relations, event planning, and fundraising. As the Community Engagement Specialist, Catherine will be responsible for developing and implementing marketing and social media plans, conducting community presentations and planning community events. Relying on her exceptional communication and organizational skills, attention to detail, and creativity, Catherine hopes to increase Live54218 brand awareness and help the Green Bay community be the healthiest it can be.
Paul Des Jardins, School Garden Specialist
Paul graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from Andrews University in 2004. He has since earned a Masters of Science in Education in School Psychology (UW-La Crosse) and an Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology (Andrews University). Paul has worked as a School Psychologist for the past 6 years and is currently employed by the Green Bay Area Public School District. Paul recently accepted the position as School Garden Specialist with Live54218. He has been involved with community gardening initiatives such as the Green Bay Garden Blitz as well as worked to develop and maintain gardens at several local Elementary Schools. Through these projects, Paul gained experience in engaging and educating students, parents, and communities in what local and sustainable agriculture can mean for them. Paul hopes that through this position he can provide schools with the training and resources they need to create and sustain gardens to better serve their school communities.