INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Health and food access often go hand in hand.
That’s why Eskenazi Health is expanding its fresh food market to meet patient and staff needs. The community around the hospital is considered a food desert. So, some of the lower-income families and even student population may have trouble getting what they need.
The Fresh For You Market sits just outside Eskenazi Health’s main entrance. Inside there’s a kitchen and neighborhood-type grocery store. Finding a place such as this is hard when you’re living, working and going to school in what’s considered a food desert.
“That’s very convenient for the people, very convenient. It’s very much needed in the community,” said customer Adrian England.
The market sits right along the bus line making it easy for England and other shoppers. He’d visited to the market when the space was just a restaurant and is amazed to see what it’s become.
“Especially convenient for people who work, have kids, have to feed a family, and they can just go right here and then go ride home after work.”
That convenience is part of the reason why the hospital decided to expand the market from just a space inside the hospital cafeteria to this.
Seth Grant is the director for systems food strategy for social determinants of health, and this initiative is taking aim at improving health outcomes. “We know that 80% of all chronic diseases can be reversed or prevented through proper nutrition, and that’s a big number, and something most people don’t realize.”
Grant said the hospital can identify patients who may face food insecurity and provide vouchers allowing them to shop traditionally with no one knowing they’re using the vouchers. But, the food, he said, is just one of the ways they’ll use the market space.
“Actually make it a patient resource center, so when someone is struggling to find other resources. In the community we’re using this as a point of contact to connect them with those resources,” Grant said.
Although England isn’t an Ezkenazi patient, he’s a shopper and says he’ll spread the word.
Hospital representatives said they will collaborate with local artists to paint the market and local chefs to expand the kitchen menu.