Healthy and nutritious food can be major determining factors in chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer affecting many Americans. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fewer than 1 in 10 children and adults eat recommended the daily amount of vegetables. Dr. Lisa Harris (CEO of Eskenazi Health) often says, “Good food is good medicine”. Good nutrition is the foundation of good health and has been proven to play a key role in prevention of chronic disease and mitigation of the risk of some cancers. Unfortunately, many in our communities are food insecure which impacts their ability to incorporate healthy lifestyle habits.
Food insecurity is influenced by the following: income, employment, race/ethnicity, and disability; increasing when money to buy food is limited or not available. Food insecurity in low-income communities is 2.5 times higher than the national average. Neighborhood conditions play an essential role in food insecurity, with more than 200,000 Indianapolis residents residing in a food desert, an area of the city with more than 33% of the population residing more than mile from a grocery store.
Social, economic, and political conditions are the primary influences causing food deserts across the nation. Subsequently leaving numerous Indianapolis communities with lack of access to nutritious foods resulting in health disparities.
For over 160 years, Eskenazi Health has committed itself to addressing social determinants of health providing high-quality, cost-effective healthcare to residents of Marion County and Central Indiana residents. Eskenazi Health dedicates to going beyond providing programming and access to what’s needed for Indianapolis’ underserved communities.
In July 2023, Eskenazi Health alongside other local organizations announced the Fresh For You Market on Wheels, a mobile grocery store dedicated to providing nutritious food to Indianapolis’ most vulnerable communities.
Fresh For You Market on Wheels aims to bring nutritious food to Indianapolis’ food insecure communities. The self-sustaining model is open to the public, providing fresh produce, pantry staples, and much more. Formerly a 40-foot city bus, this hybrid market was transformed into a mobile grocery store with fridges, freezers, grocery shelves, and much more to equip Indianapolis’ most vulnerable communities with access to healthy food. This new Eskenazi Health program is an extension of the Eskenazi Health Fresh for You Market located at the Frank & Katrina Basile Pavilion on Eskenazi Health’s downtown campus at 720 Eskenazi Ave., directly outside the main entrance of the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital.
As community members begin to purchase items from the market, proceeds from traditional sales will directly benefit the Eskenazi Health Fresh for You Market voucher program. These vouchers are given to patients who screen as food insecure, allowing them to attain market food items free of charge.
The Fresh for You Market on Wheels is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the following locations:
Monday: Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center, 3171 N. Meridian St.
Tuesday: Eskenazi Health Center West 38th Street, 5515 W. 38th St.
Wednesday: Eskenazi Health Center Forest Manor, 3840 N. Sherman Dr.
Thursday: Community Alliance of the Far Eastside (CAFE), 8902 E. 38th St.
Friday: Edna Martin Christian Center, 2605 E. 25th St.
For more information about the Eskenazi Health Fresh for You Market, please visit https://www.eskenazihealth.edu/food-as-medicine.
By Broderick Rhyant, M.D., chief executive physician with Eskenazi Health Center Forest Manor. For more local news, click here.