THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s (TBRHSC) Eat Smart! Team partnered with local farmers to launch an on-site fresh market. The Fresh Market helps to strengthen TBRHSC’s vision of Healthy Together by giving staff, patients, families and visitors the opportunity to purchase locally grown food.
Andrée Robichaud, President and CEO of TBRHSC, is thrilled to see the Fresh Market take place. “With over 2700 staff, we are the largest employer in the city. When you add in hundreds of patients, family members, visitors, and volunteers, it’s easy to see how we are fortunately positioned to help a huge portion of the population make better food choices by bringing fresh local products right here to the Health Sciences Centre grounds”.
The Fresh Market idea came to life when the Eat Smart! Committee was looking for more ways to encourage healthy eating within the Health Sciences Centre and the broader community. The success of the Thunder Bay Country Market and local businesses like True North Coop, Belluz Farms, and Gammondale Farm encouraged organizers to think that you can never get enough of a good thing. TBRHSC’s Fresh Market is a win-win: consumers have more access to local produce and producers have a bustling venue to sell and promote their locally grown food.
“Bringing our fresh goods into a receptive worksite is terrific,” says Paul Gibson from True North Coop. “When busy working people have convenient access to fresh farm produce, we know that family mealtime will look better, taste better, and offer more healthy options.”
The Fresh Market is just one initiative underway to improve food access and service. The TBRHSC cafeteria has received a silver level award from the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) as part of the Ontario Public Health Association’s Eat Smart! program. The Eat Smart program recognizes exceptional standards in nutrition, food safety, and a smoke free environment.
Catherine Schwartz-Mendez, Public Health Nutritionist at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, is excited about the possibilities that a workplace Fresh Market offers. “This new initiative by the Eat Smart! Action Committee will help people make healthier eating choices by providing fresh food in a convenient way. This new partnership with local producers is just another great way to improve consumption of fresh vegetables and fruit while at the same time supporting the local economy. It would be fantastic for other worksites to be able to do similar types of events for their employees.”
TBRHSC’s Wellness Committee sees the Fresh Market as a great opportunity to promote healthier eating habits by educating people about what they can do with beets, turnips, chard, beans, and a cornucopia of other farm fresh items. Recipes and nutrition information will give people the knowledge they need to make food choices that are a good fit for their lifestyle and tastes.
“By reminding people of local food options available to them, we hope to stimulate interest in trying new recipes that are creative, tasty, and healthful,” says TBRHSC Director of Prevention and Screening, Alison McMullen. “The roasted potato garlic soup sounds delicious, looks gorgeous, and is simple to prepare.”
Sarah Miller, dietitian at TBRHSC, echoes this feeling, “With just a few ingredients and a little time in the kitchen, you can have a made-from-scratch meal on the table that is delicious and nutritious,” she says. “And just like anything, the more you prepare your own food, the better you get at it and the more you want to try new things.”
The Fresh Market is located on the beautiful TBRHSC grounds, outside the cafeteria entrance on the east side of the building. TBRHSC welcomes everyone who enjoys local produce to come out to the Fresh Market Fall Harvest.
The Fresh Market project will lead up to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation Celebrity Chef event in October. This year, the event will feature Chef Lynn Crawford, a passionate food lover and huge supporter of using fresh local ingredients. Healthy eating brings TBRHSC’s vision of ‘Healthy Together’ to life. Passionate foodies can purchase tickets for the Foundation’s Celebrity Chef Event at the Fresh Market.