Group aims to improve access to healthy, affordable food

Local News

For many people in Fort Wayne, access to affordable, healthy food is limited. That’s why the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and Parkview Health have joined forces to try to change that.

They’ve created a community effort called Healthy Eating Active Living, or HEAL. 

The group hosted a special event Wednesday night to showcase what they do and how it can impact people in the community.

Organizers said the goal is to provide healthy produce items to people in areas of town that don’t have grocery stores nearby, also known as food deserts. 

“All of our farm markets are in food deserts,” Meg Distler, Executive Director at St. Joseph Community Health Foundation said. “We think that’s really important because the USDA has come out with 37 census tracks in Allen County. 110,000 people live [in food deserts], that’s a third of the county. So there’s no grocery stores near here, and yet we want to get fresh healthy food around people.”

One of those areas is the corner of Edsall and McCormick avenues at McCormick Place.

It’s the location of one of five summer farmers markets that HEAL supports. Those markets offer fresh produce items at affordable prices in targeted neighborhoods.

People with SNAP, WIC, or Senior produce vouchers get double the value of their vouchers at the HEAL food markets.

HEAL also created the Our HEALing Kitchen cooking class. It combines nutrition education, healthy recipes, and fun interaction for adults and kids at more than 40 sites throughout the summer.

At Wednesday’s showcase event, people could watch a Parkview Health chef make various dishes using fresh produce from the farmers market. 

“We have some great cooking classes at 40 sites in the community,” Distler said. “We have a lot of churches, community centers, who are teaching [people]. We train them or provide them with the curriculum and some of the materials, and they are doing a lot of cooking classes, on how to use all of this.”

Organizers said it’s all in an effort to empower people to live healthier lives.

Visit HEAL’s Facebook page or go to the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation website for a full list of farmers market locations and more information.

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