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Weiss Memorial Hospital Commits to Healthy Eating with First Farmers Market in Chicago's Uptown Neighborhood

Jun 10, 2010

North Side Farmers Market to be Held Thursdays Starting June 24

Contact: Catherine Gianaro
cgianaro@weisshospital.com  
(773) 564-7285

CHICAGO (June 10, 2010) — Working to make a social impact on a diverse neighborhood with a range of healthcare needs, Weiss Memorial Hospital is set to host the first farmers market in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Local vendors will sell everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to flowers and honey from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Thursday, starting June 24. The weekly event will continue through Oct. 28 in the southwest corner parking lot of the hospital, located at 4646 N. Marine Dr.

“We are concerned about the health of our community,” said Terry Tuohy, director of volunteer services at Weiss. “Our foremost concern is diabetes, and the first step to combating it is eating right.”

The hospital serves a gentrified part of the city that has a growing number of young families, one of the highest number of senior living centers in Chicago, and a plentiful mix of races and ethnicities. But much of the efforts of the farmers market will focus on the children in the community.

“If they learn proper eating early, Weiss will make a big difference here, especially when it comes to pre-diabetes,” Tuohy said.

An estimated 57 million people in the United States are pre-diabetic, the state before people develop type 2 diabetes. It’s when a person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. It can often be reversed.

In addition to organic offerings, the Uptown Farmers Market at Weiss will provide diabetes and high blood pressure screenings as well as educational materials on healthy eating, informational talks from dieticians on healthy recipes and instructional sessions from volunteer farmers on urban gardening. “We want people to know anyone can grow something healthy,” Tuohy added.

Living up to that mantra, Weiss has partnered with senior volunteers and community groups to nurture an urban garden on the roof of the hospital’s parking garage. Twenty planter boxes are painted to reflect the fruits, vegetables and herbs growing inside of them, including tomatoes, spinach, beets and raspberries. Rain barrels will be close by for regular watering by local gardeners, and volunteer teachers will hold sessions on city gardening techniques. The fresh food grown in the rooftop garden will be given back to the community through educational experiences or donations to local soup kitchens.

The Uptown Farmers Market officially kicks off Weiss’ Health for Life Initiative, which emphasizes healthy living habits for people of all ages.

The community also can be part of the effort through the hospital’s Health for Life blog, an online source of information to help people make informed decisions regarding medical care and healthy life choices.