Market combines healthy food with health care
Medically underserved patients in Orangeburg, S.C., will have easier access to fresh fruits and vegetables as the state’s first farmers market located at a federally qualified health center opens for the season Friday, June 3.
The Right Choice, Fresh Start Farmers Market will be open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Fridays through October at Family Health Centers, Inc. in Orangeburg, offering fruits and vegetables grown by area farmers. The pilot project is supported by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network at the University of South Carolina.
“We know obesity is a big problem in South Carolina, particularly in the Orangeburg area. We also know obesity is related to other health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. There is agreement among health care professionals that increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is an important approach to reducing obesity trends,” said Dr. Darcy Freedman, a USC social work professor who has led the move to create the farmers market at the health center.
The idea is to increase access to healthy food options for people in rural communities and tie together both health promotion and economic development. The food is grown on small farms in Orangeburg and adjacent counties. At least five farmers are expected to sell produce each week at the market, which is open to the general public.
“The goal of this market is to benefit both the patients and the farmers,” Freedman said. Freedman has worked with an advisory council made up of educators, extension agents and business and community leaders to develop plans for the market. The community has taken a lead role in deciding how the market will operate, with input from farmers on the types of produce that will be available. The health center serves about 300 people a day and employs about 100 staff members, Freedman said.
The market will also accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments for fruits and vegetables.
“It’s not just physical access that’s the barrier to healthy foods, it’s also the cost,” Freedman said. “We hope the foods will be affordable for patients and the community and yet will be sold at a true market price for the farmers. Our goal is for the farmers market to be a win-win endeavor for producers and consumers.”
Follow the farmers market online at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Right-Choice-Fresh-Start-Farmers-Market/216908111667843