YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO (July 10, 2017) – For Mercy Health - Youngstown, caring for the community mind, body and spirit extends into the kitchen. This summer, the region’s healthcare leader is continuing three important programs that help put healthy foods onto the plates of people who need them across the Mahoning Valley.
The anchor of those programs is the Farmer’s Market at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital. Kicked off in June, the markets will continue one Wednesday per month through October. This is the fourth year the market has been held at the hospital, and most of the farmers who bring their bounties to the events are from right here in the Valley.
Ellen Ford, manager of community health education for Mercy Health - Youngstown, said the St. Elizabeth Farmer’s Market may be the only connection to fresh produce for some in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“Access to fresh fruits and vegetables is extremely limited in neighborhoods around the hospital,” Ford said. “We’re located in what would be considered a ‘food desert.’ Many people in the area have never had the opportunity to visit a farmer’s market or had exposure to such a variety of fruits and vegetables. We’re proud to make these healthy choices more accessible to our neighbors.”
The Farmer’s Market comes to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital one Wednesday per month through October – July 12, August 9, September 13 and October 4 (the second Wednesday of the month, with the exception of October) – from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the hospital’s Park Avenue Lobby.
Two additional Mercy Health programs – the “Double Up” and Fruit and Vegetable Prescription programs – are also enhancing access to healthy ingredients.
The “Double Up” Program, funded in part by the Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley, enables people using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to double up their produce purchases at three markets in the Mahoning Valley. For example, if a SNAP shopper has $10 in benefits to spend at a farmer’s market, he or she can double it to $20 and get twice as many fresh fruits and vegetables. Local market locations include St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, the Idora Neighborhood Farmer’s Market (Youngstown, Tuesdays) and the Farmer’s Market at Courthouse Square (Warren, Tuesdays).
The foundation also supports the Mercy Health Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program. This program provides Mercy Health primary care physicians with access to vouchers to “prescribe” fruits and vegetables for up to 200 patients for whom these foods are medically necessary as part of a specific, prescribed diet. Patients with prescriptions can use their vouchers at any of the three farmer’s markets supported by Mercy Health - Youngstown.
“We can’t overstate the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables to overall wellbeing,” Ford said. “These foods are extremely important to good health, especially for people with chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes, who can benefit immensely by making changes in their food consumption.”
For more information about Mercy Health - Youngstown Community Health Education, nutrition programs and other program offerings, call 330-480-3070.
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