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St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center

Advancing Excellence

May 28 2013
Improving Community Health

Saturday morning I made my usual trip to the Farmers Market on Park Street. I have been going for years, usually to stop and see family members working or to stop at my favorite booths.  This time of year I go for asparagus, rhubarb or plants. 

As I was wandering I was thinking how the market had changed over the years, both in terms of the nationalities represented and what is being sold, as well as how busy the market has become.

This Saturday I saw some of our employees, physicians and friends, all sharing the same sense of community that you can only get at the market. (Parking at Green Hills would be much easier!)

As we begin to redefine providing health services to include a substantial focus on improving community health, there are some lessons for us at the market.

Access to fresh food will draw people, and in that experience, you can also share education and support around other issues.

How many areas in our community cannot access this experience, and how do we act as a catalyst to change that? Two summers ago we added a weekly stand from the farmers market to our campus for our employees. There is also a mobile market that stops in Syracuse neighborhoods.  When a local grocery store closed on our North side, our Northside Urban Partnership advocated behind the scenes for a new store recognizing its importance in community health.  Lastly we are watching more urban gardens develop, and have supported this effort with donations.

The growing community of new citizens on the North side is bringing with it new foods and ideas for products which the Northside Urban Partnership is also looking to help support business opportunities.

On the West side we are co-locating  our new Westside Family Health Center adjacent to Nojaims Market where we are exploring how to interface health care and community health improvement.

This is new ground for us to explore, but walking through the market on Saturday gave me hope we are building on the right formula -- engaging families and access to good food, is part of building a healthy community.


5 Comments so far

Todd Stady May 28, 2013 at 01:30 pm

Those words, community and health, when together typically grab my attention. As an employee as well as a volunteer here in the Northside community, I see this vision unfolding and its exciting! That St Joe's and the leadership are being bold and embracing this concept is one more reason I enjoy being able to call St Joe's my place of employment! Healthy food access and choice is essential. The mobile market - great idea! Another potential is community supported agriculture (CSA). Local farms seem to be embracing this idea and look for places to serve as pick up locations. St Joe's hosting a 'CSA fair' open to staff and the community? Another way to bring education and opportunity to St Joe's and the northside.......Thanks for sharing

Ann Ferro May 28, 2013 at 01:41 pm

Oftentimes, the only nutritional information that families have is that which they see on TV. The staff at St. Joe's has the opportunity to use the "teachable moment" to engage minds, hearts and digestive systems in better ways of eating ... one step at a time, as appropriate to the setting and the audience. At one time in the long ago, the city acutally had people on staff who provided support for community gardens. That can happen again, perhaps not from the city, but from other entities. You are what you eat...which explains a lot.

Nichole Wenderlich Owens May 28, 2013 at 01:42 pm

When is the Farmer's Market stand coming back to campus? It is fabulous - thank you for having it! Is it possible for it to be mobilized so it visits the off-sites as well?

Kathryn Ruscitto May 28, 2013 at 01:05 pm

The Farmer's Market should be back sometime in June. We're looking into the question of having it travel to off-site locations and will let everyone know!

Ann Ferro May 28, 2013 at 01:06 pm

Apropo of my comment, I began to research and found that there is a local organization, Syracusegrows.com that advocates for community gardens et.al. The introduction to their description ends with "Syracuse Grows pledges to build local capacity for urban agriculture and community gardening by providing programming, education and resources to Syracuse residents interested in urban food cultivation.". The crux of the matter is the last five words. Teaching about good nutrition, creating the need in the minds of people to have better nutrition must come before the garden spade.

The information provided on this site should not be taken as medical advice. As always, we strongly recommend that you consult with a physician if you have any medical concerns.