March 4, 2013 – Hallmark Health System (HHS) has partnered with the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and one of the largest food banks in the country, on a monthly mobile food market to address the lack of access to healthy food for low-income families in several area communities.
The first mobile food market was held in August of last year and has been held monthly since then at HHS’s North Suburban Women, Infant and Children (WIC) office, located at 239 Commercial St. in Malden. During that time, the market has served thousands of local families that are considered “food insecure,” defined as not knowing where they’ll find their next meal and having limited or no resources to purchase low-cost fresh and affordable foods needed to maintain a healthy diet.
“The mobile food market is an example of Hallmark Health System addressing a local challenge through partnering with the Greater Boston Food Bank to bring healthy food to those in need,” said Eileen Dern, RN, director of community services for HHS.
For those who struggle to afford or access nutritious food, inexpensive and unhealthy foods are sometimes the only option. Mobile food markets like this provide a unique solution by offering, fresh, healthy food in a setting similar to a farmers’ market. Families are welcomed to “shop” and are provided with recipes for the foods they receive, but may be unfamiliar with. The foods offered differ each month, but are always fresh or frozen and usually include meat, fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, and dairy items like tofu and yogurt. Most families leave with about 30 pounds of food at the end of the hour-long market.
“Food is one of the most important determining factors of health,” said Dern. “Anytime we can put healthy food on a family’s table, we are helping to improve their health.”
Providing access to healthy foods allows older adults and elders to better manage chronic diseases like diabetes while younger adults and children are able to maintain a healthy weight and focus their limited resources on other needs such as housing costs. When families have their basic economic needs such as food, shelter, clothing and healthcare met, studies show that this leads to improved health for adults and optimal growth and development for children.
HHS also partners on this initiative with the Malden Zonta Club, a local service organization whose mission is to advance the status of women worldwide and to locally serve the community. Malden Zontians support the food distribution effort each month.
For more information about the mobile food market, call 781-338-7568.
Hallmark Health System is the premier, charitable provider of vital health services to Boston's northern communities. The system includes Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford; Melrose Wakefield Hospital, Melrose; Hallmark Health Hematology and Oncology Center, Stoneham; The CHEM Center for MRI, Stoneham; Hallmark Health Medical Center, Reading; Hallmark Health VNA and Hospice; Lawrence Memorial/Regis College Nursing and Radiography Programs, Medford and Hallmark Health Medical Associates, Inc. Hallmark Health is affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital for cardiology and Tufts Medical Center for neonatology and the Joslin Diabetes Center for diabetes care.