Hospital fresh market improves healthy eating

By Katherine Mayer

 

The seasonally popular Fresh Market located at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is returning in June for the seventh year. The Fresh Market is a farmers’ market hosted on the Hospital grounds throughout the summer and early fall months, featuring several local farmers and vendors and their fresh produce and products, and plays an important role in health promotion.

Adults in Northwestern Ontario consume lower levels of fruits and vegetables than the rest of the province, and access to local, fresh and healthy produce and products is limited. “Our onsite Fresh Market improves community health and well-being by making  fresh, healthy and local food to be more accessible to our staff, patients, visitors, and volunteers,” stated Kelly-Jo Gillis, Manager of Preventive Health Services at our Hospital. “Reducing barriers to accessing healthy food is a goal that the Fresh Market constantly achieves.”

With more than 3,000 visitors annually from June to October each year, organizers strive to improve the Fresh Market’s impact on health by expanding produce and products, working with new vendors, and engaging with customers and vendors alike to evaluate its success. “We focus on encouraging individuals to learn more about their food, where it’s coming from, and how to cook homemade meals with the ingredients they purchased,” explained Gillis. “Dietitian-approved recipes are provided and partnerships with our Hospital’s cafeteria allow us to provide food samples, food demos, and showcase local food on our cafeteria menus. And unlike a grocery store, Fresh Market attendees are able to ask questions directly to farmers and vendors and learn more about the items they are purchasing.”

The Fresh Market is one of the most successful health promotion initiatives at our Hospital. Gillis continued, “The Fresh Market offers more health education than just healthy eating. Partnerships with our internal Hospital departments, local Health Unit and environmental programs have provided opportunities to learn about more aspects of health, including stroke prevention, sun safety, environmental health and exposures”.

The notion of the Hospital promoting healthy eating onsite sends a positive message to our community. “Even though we are an acute care hospital, we have a key role to play in the prevention and management of chronic disease in our region,” stated Gillis. “We need to role model healthy lifestyles, and the Fresh Market is a great way to do that.”

Our Hospital’s Fresh Market is open to all staff, patients, volunteers, and the public every Wednesday from June 19 until October 9, 2019.between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm in the cafeteria courtyard. For more information on other health promotion initiatives at our Hospital, visit www.tbrhsc.net/prevention.

Katherine Mayer is the Health Promotion and Communication Planner at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.