hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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July 4, 2013

Hospital's farmers market called 'prescription' for health

Patients to get vouchers for fresh food

(Continued)

Farming for the past 25 years, Stasinos said she easily connected with Bailey’s idea to use locally grown goods to introduce healthier living.

“The fresh food brought to market near home has the most nutritional value and tastes better,’’ Stasinos said. “You can taste the difference and what they’re tasting is better health.’’

The hospital farm stand will start with early season vegetables, lettuce, garlic, strawberries, peas and early tomatoes, she said.

Bailey said the hospital hopes this program will encourage people to eat healthier and buy locally.

The hospital will enroll as many as 50 patients and their families in the farmers market program once their primary care physician gives them the prescription for a diet that emphasizes fresh fruit and vegetables, Bailey said.

The patients whose doctors prescribe the program will receive vouchers to buy products from the farmers market. The farmers market vendors then send the vouchers to the state, which reimburses the farmer for the goods sold.

“By increasing access to and visibility of healthy foods, we hope to encourage healthy behaviors in our hospital and in the community,” Bailey said.

Access to the farmers market will be on the Groveland Street side of the hospital.

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