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LVHN, Rodale Institute work to combat food deserts

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    Jesse Barrett, food production specialist at the Rodale Institute Organic Research Farm, displays some of the organically grown produce available at Lehigh Valley Hospital on Thursday during the introduction of a partnership between the Lehigh Valley Health Network and the Rodale Institute’s traveling Mobile Market. JIM MARSH/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published September 11. 2019 12:38PM

When people do not have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables, they are said to be living in a “food desert.”

Looking at the abundance of large grocery super stores that dot the region, it’s sometimes hard to believe that such areas exist.

But, for various geographic, transportation and socio-economic reasons, pockets of food deserts do exist.

Last week, Lehigh Valley Health Network announced a partnership with the Rodale Institute’s Mobile Market to assist in the institute’s initiative to increase that access in the greater Lehigh Valley region.

The Mobile Market is a portable farm stand that brings organic produce to places people congregate.

Eric Bean, medical director of LVHN’s community health program, said, “We mean it when we say we’re a health partner. That includes preventive care and helping people maintain healthy living practices. That’s what led to our commitment to partner with the Rodale Institute.”

Rodale Institute, with its 333-acre organic research farm in Maxatawny, is considered a global leader in organic agriculture.

It created its Mobile Market “to address the rising number of food-related health issues in the greater Lehigh Valley region,” said Jeff Moyer, executive director of Rodale Institute.

“It’s impossible to have a healthy diet without access to healthy food,” Moyer said. “That’s why we are partnering with the Lehigh Valley Health Network to tackle the issue of food insecurity with a well-rounded approach.”

The Mobile Market kicked off its tour of LVHN facilities on Sept 5 at the Cedar Crest campus’ main entrance. Hospital staff, and the thousands of people that visit the campus each day were able to purchase produce, cheese and breads grown or prepared under the organic banner.

An executive chef with Sodexo, which provides the hospital’s food services, prepared a Thai eggplant salad with ingredients available at the portable farm stand.

He offered samples of the salad, and provided a written recipe to allow people to duplicate the salad at home.

LVHN dietitians and healthy living practitioners were also on hand to answer questions and provide advice and take-away materials advocating healthy lifestyle practices.

The Mobile Market will be at other LVHN facilities from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the following dates.

• Sept. 19: One City Center, 707 W. Hamilton St., Allentown

• Sept. 26: Muhlenberg campus, 2545 Schoenersville Road

• Oct. 3: Cedar Crest campus

• Oct. 10: LVHN-Mack Boulevard facility, 2100 Mack Boulevard, Allentown

• Oct 17: One City Center, 707 W. Hamilton St., Allentown

• Oct. 24: Muhlenberg campus, 2545 Schoenersville Road

The Rodale Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach.

For more information, visit the institute website at: RodaleInstitute.org.

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