Methodist market brings fresh choices to Gary - September 8, 2016

Courtesy of Post-Tribune • September 8, 2016

By Sue Ellen Ross

Three years ago, Methodist Hospitals conducted a Community Health Needs Assessment. One big issue that came up was the lack of availability for fresh fruits and vegetables at affordable prices in the Gary community.

Hospital officials took action, and the Summer Farmer’s Market started popping up in its northeast parking lot twice a month.

“This is a godsend to many of us,” local resident Mary Deavon said as she shopped under a large tent housing the open-air selection of fruits and vegetables during a recent market day. “I don’t drive, so I can’t get to the big stores. But I can walk here, I live right down the street.”

The Methodist market offers a few added attractions not found elsewhere.

A cooking demonstration offers information on making a healthy meal each session. And when the demonstrations are done the prepared meals are sold at a nominal price.

Many people line up to take lunch home or back to the office.

A myriad of Methodist Hospital employees take advantage of the fresh culinary opportunity each time a Farmers Market is held.

“I’ve already bought my lunch and decided to pick up some fruit before I get back to the hospital,” employee Ashley Crayton said as she looked over a bunch of bananas during a recent market day. “This is convenient for a lot of us.”

In addition to the bananas, fruit selections included cantaloupe, strawberries and blueberries. Examples in the veggie section were sweet potatoes, corn, onions and cucumbers.

“You can’t beat the deals for these things I’m buying,” James Fairmont of Gary said, as he referred to the wholesale prices for the fruits and vegetables. “It’s great to get bargains in your own back yard.”

Gary friends Christie Butler and Latoya Griffin were visiting Methodist Hospital when they heard someone mention the Farmers Market in the parking lot.

‘We saw the big white tent and the barbecue grills set up, so came over to see what they had,” Butler said as they lined up with dozens of others to purchase chicken sandwiches and rib tips. “We’ve already shopped at the market and I bought some beautiful bell peppers. I’ll be using then for dinner tonight.”

Methodist food services director Frank Matchen talked with passers-by, as well as those making their selections among the bushels and baskets neatly lined up on the long tables.

“We always have a great turnout,” he said. “People appreciate what we’re doing here. It’s beneficial all the way around.”

While chef Jason Holmes was busy at the grill, cafeteria worker Erik Turner dished out to-go orders.

“This is our way of giving back to the community,” Holmes said. “And it’s a great fundraiser for the hospital.”

Sue Ellen Ross is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.