Methodist Hospitals Farmer’s Market Is a Healthy Hit with Local Residents - July 29, 2017

Courtesy of NW Indiana Life

Written by Peter Krivas

For four years now, Methodist Hospitals has held a Farmer’s Market at its Northlake Campus in Gary providing valuable services and produce to the local community. The market provides healthy, fresh food options to local residents including fruits, veggies and healthy wraps as well as tips and demonstrations.

Frank Matchem, the Food Services Manager at Methodist, loves coming out to see the community and be a part of this much-needed service.

“Our goal is to bring fresh fruit and vegetables, and healthy options to the neighborhood where it’s a grocery desert essentially. We have some residents that have been coming here for the past four years, every single farmer’s market; we have a bunch of regulars,” said Matchem, in between helping out customers and chatting with the residents.

Food deserts are defined by the USDA as: “parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets and healthy food providers.”

That’s where Methodist steps in, providing this valuable resource to the community every two weeks throughout the summer, with two more markets left for this year.

“It’s very effective,” said Matchem of Methodist’s efforts in the community. “We want to get people healthier now to prevent them from coming to the hospital in the future. There are a lot of health problems like high blood pressure in the city, and these are the things that help, getting healthier eating habits.”

The employees Of Methodist do their part in making the event a success as well, putting the word out to their neighbors and referring others in the community to the event.

Chef Tim Bellamy has been doing this for the last three years, and he enjoys every minute of it.

“It’s great to come out and do something for the community of Gary, because they don’t have a lot of options here. There are issues with obesity, high blood pressure and hypertension. It’s fun to teach people how to cook healthier. We teach them how to cook the greens and use things like turkey or just veggies instead of pork or other less healthy food,” said Bellamy.

Bellamy and his crew were showing off their cooking prowess by grilling up a simple, healthy, but delicious wrap to show attendees how easy and appealing healthy eating could be. The wrap included zucchini, squash, peppers and onions and gave off a fresh, inviting aroma in its vibrant tortilla.

“We want to make sure we take care of the community, give back to the community and give them a healthy option,” said Bellamy enthusiastically.

For the crew serving up healthy goods for the community, it’s important to supplement something missing from the community and have a little fun while doing it.

“It’s about a service we’re offering to the neighborhood. Methodist isn’t making profit, they are selling the produce at cost to keep the food affordable,” explained Matchem.

Vendors like Piazza Produce and other local vendors between here and Indianapolis supply Methodist with the food they sell. Locals are appreciative and enthusiastic about the event, coming and chatting with the Methodist employees like old friends and taking home bags full of fresh goods.

“The people here treat you so well and respectfully,” said attendee Greta Noel. “The food is excellent, the fresh veggies are wonderful, the food is just outstanding. Something like this should have been here a long time ago. It’s so needed in our community.” Noel’s appreciation was certainly shared by other residents and the Methodist employees present could feel it as they walked around helping customers and chatting over the trays and boxes of fresh food.

Rodney Moore, another Methodist chef, said this was his second time doing the event.

“It’s fun, you get to meet a lot of different people, and helping out is always a good feeling. I asked to come out here actually, so now I’m more involved in it. When I found out they were doing this, I wanted to be a part of it. It’s great working for Methodist. I like what I do, and I like getting up in the morning to come into work, not everybody has that, but I’m like, ‘Yeah I’m going to work, cool.’”