"We've been working on this concept for several months," says Seth Grant, associate director of culinary services and business operations. "We've partnered with vendors and figured out the logistics of running a grocery store. This fits in with a big passion of ours to work to combat the food insecurity and food desert issues in Indianapolis. Many of our patients live in food deserts. Our big goal is to encourage people to cook at home and discourage shopping at c-stores. We want to give them access to healthy foods at reasonable prices and teach them how to use the food."
Formerly a grab-and-go area, the Fresh For You Market contains a large open-air cooler holding produce, a glass door reach-in cooler for milk, eggs and cheese and designer-style shelving displaying kitchen utensils and recipes to help guide customers in home meal planning. "Many people who just start to cook may not have utensils such as measuring cups and strainers," says Amy Carter, MA, RD, CD, CDE,
director of outpatient nutrition.
In an effort not only to provide customers with the ingredients and the tools necessary to cook at home, Carter and the dietitian team will host educational events in this market at a large worktable. "The outpatient nutrition team at Eskenazi Health has been providing cooking classes to patients for years and we are finally able to make that last connection for them of having access to the proper ingredients," Carter says.
The Fresh For You Market initiative represents one of many partner programs between culinary services and Eskanazi Health Outpatient Nutrition that encourage patients, staff and visitors to practice a healthy lifestyle. For example, every two weeks, staff sample farm-fresh veggies during the Fresh Veggie Friday event. Participants then take samples home. "We give participants a 20-percent-off voucher to incentivize them to come back into the market."
Produce for educational programming, such as Fresh Veggie Friday, comes from both vendors and an internal harvest from The Sky Farm at Eskenazi Health. Sitting on the rooftop of the Eskenazi Health Outpatient Care Center and featuring 5,000 square feet of growing space, the farm raises more than 3,000 pounds of produce. This produce also filters into retail operations and patient room service meals.