Saint Anne’s Hospital launches fourth annual weekly Farmers Market

Fall River, MA – For the fourth year as part of its community wellness initiative, Saint Anne’s Hospital is partnering with Silverbrook Farm, of Dartmouth, in offering a weekly farmers market on the hospital grounds.

From June 18 through late October, the 2015 market offers healthy farm goods each Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m., on the hospital grounds at the corner of South Main and Middle streets. The market will continue to offer weekly recipes and food preparation ideas and work with select patients in its diabetes education program through a voucher program.

In addition, this year’s market will encourage healthy physical activity to complement healthy eating through a new walking program in nearby Kennedy Park.

Fostering community health through healthy eating and activity

At more than 350 years old, Saint Anne’s farm partner, Silverbrook Farm, is one of the oldest operating farms in Massachusetts. Its produce is grown using sustainable methods, meaning that no herbicides or pesticides are used.

In addition to providing locally sourced produce and related products for hospital staff and the general community, Saint Anne’s farmers market is continuing a unique program for select patients in the hospital’s diabetes education program.

Saint Anne's Community Health Program, in partnership with the hospital’s Diabetes Education Program, is offering the third annual Steward Farmers Market “Rx Voucher” program for high-risk patients with diabetes. Weekly vouchers are offered free of charge to select patients enrolled in the hospital’s diabetes education program for use at the Farmers Market. Patients are evaluated at intervals during the market season.

For the past two years, the collaboration with the hospital’s diabetes program has paid dividends for patients who regularly shopped at the market.

“The farmers market voucher program has shown that a coordinated approach to healthy eating can have a positive impact on people with diabetes,” said Rose Marie Couto, RN, CDE, (right), a certified diabetes educator at Saint Anne’s. “By using target goals established by the American Diabetes Association, and making produce and related recipes available, we have helped a number of patients reap the benefits of healthy eating.”

Most notably, said Couto, patients who regularly took advantage of the market’s healthy offerings over the 20-week season in 2014 saw an average decrease of 1.3 points in their A1C. The A1C is a test that provides a picture of a person’s average blood glucose (blood sugar) control for the past two to three months.

“Research, such as the UK Prospective Diabetes Study, shows us that each 1% absolute reduction in mean A1C levels was associated with a 37% decrease in the risk of microvascular complications, such as problems with eyes, nerves and kidney function. It’s also associated with a 21% reduction in the risk of any diabetes-related complication or death,” said Couto.

“In other words, improvement in A1C, or maintenance of a healthy A1C, means that people with diabetes are less likely to develop some of the complications that can occur when the disease is not well controlled.”

Market Thursdays” at Saint Anne’s Hospital

This year’s market will open with a special “Market Fest Day” on Thursday, June 18, and continue on Thursdays through October 29, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., near the hospital’s main entrance at the corner of South Main and Middle streets.

Opening day will feature native strawberries, greens, jams, local raw honey, plants, with items added throughout the growing season. Shoppers also can enjoy live music, blood pressure and blood glucose screenings, and free information about cardiovascular health. Free valet parking is available at the entrance.

Accepted forms of payment include cash, check, debit and credit cards, SNAP, and Senior Coupons (available at Councils on Aging). Steward Farmers Market “Rx vouchers” are available to select patients enrolled in the hospital’s diabetes education program.

New this year: Through a pre-paid Silverbrook Farm Market “Bucks Card,” customers can enjoy a discount on goods throughout the season. “Bucks Cards” are available in any amount and may be purchased online at any time during the market season. Get details at www.silverbrookdartmouth.com.

New market bonus: Weekly walking group

To complement the focus on healthy eating, Saint Anne’s is launching a weekly walking group in conjunction with its farmers market.

Open to hospital staff, neighbors, or anyone who wishes to enjoy a refreshing walk in nearby Kennedy Park, the group will meet, beginning June 25, each Thursday at 11 a.m. near the market.

The weekly walk will give participants the chance to enjoy healthy physical activity with others and/or healthy food shopping. There is no charge for this activity.

“Walking is one of the most fundamental, yet beneficial, activities we can enjoy,” said Couto. “There’s no special equipment or membership fee, participants can walk at their own pace, and the benefits of regular activity can really pay off. Just wear comfortable shoes and join us!”

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