Marina, CA, June 09, 2020 — Remember when your parents told you to “eat your vegetables?” Well, now under an innovative partnership between healthcare providers and farmers’ markets, doctors can “prescribe” fresh fruits and vegetables to young overweight patients and direct them to the farmers’ markets where they can receive $25 worth of fresh produce weekly.
Everyone’s Harvest Certified Farmers’ Markets, in partnership with local healthcare providers, through the Fresh Rx program, has distributed $94,000 in healthy, local fruits and vegetables “prescriptions” to 150 families in need in our community in 2019.
Results tracked by doctors show healthy decreases in the majority of participants’ overall body mass index, weight, and waist circumference, and other healthy lifestyle changes, including an increase in meals prepared as a family at home. To date, more than 350 families have benefited from Everyone’s Harvest’s Fresh Rx program, and Everyone’s Harvest has redeemed $300,000 in fresh produce “prescriptions.”
"One challenge to healthy nutrition, especially among low-income individuals, is access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Karen Gomez, who was recently named market program manager for Everyone’s Harvest. “For this reason, I strongly believe in the Fresh Rx Program. Not just because it addresses the problem, but because it motivates people to live a healthier lifestyle for themselves, and for their families.”
The Fresh Rx program isn’t just about better access to fruits and vegetables. The program brings food into healthcare and equips healthcare providers with tools to address healthy eating and food insecurity. Participating clinics and hospitals teach classes about healthy eating, cooking, and the connection between food and health. Healthcare providers and healthcare staffs are becoming healthy food ambassadors, connecting patients with healthy resources in their communities.
Doctors involved in the program are reporting that it has helped strengthened the doctor-patient relationship, opened up more dialogue around healthy nutrition and contributed to their patients building new healthy habits. And they are reporting that they are issuing higher-priced prescriptions to fewer patients, deepening the impact and simplifying the implementation by participating doctors and clinics.
At this time, Everyone’s Harvest has three markets open, Marina, Pacific Grove and Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System (SVMHS) markets. The other Everyone’s Harvest certified farmers’ markets in Salinas, one at Women, Infants And Children (WIC) offices at 632 East Alisal St., and the other at Natividad Medical Center at 1441 Constitution Blvd., will open on June 16 and June 17, respectively. Both markets will be smaller, modified markets with social distancing plans in place. All markets have strict social distancing and thorough sanitation plans in place.
The Marina Certified Farmers’ Market is held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday at 215 Reservation Road, in Marina. The Pacific Grove Certified Farmers’ Market is held from 3 to 7 p.m. every Monday at the corner of Central and Grand avenues, in Pacific Grove. The Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System Certified Farmers’ Market is open on Fridays from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., at 450 East Romie Lane, in Salinas. All are operating as essential businesses in the community and to ensure that fresh food is available to local residents.
“A healthy and safe farmers' market is our number-one priority,” said Everyone’s Harvest Executive Director Reid Norris. “Our farmers and vendors, like many small businesses in the community, rely on your continued support to bring you necessary services like fresh food and produce. We are doing this to support local farmers and give people a nutritious option for produce. So if you are able to, please keep supporting us.”
Everyone's Harvest will adhere to guidelines described in their Social Distancing Plan, created in collaboration with Monterey County Health Department, California Department of Public Health, and California Alliance of Farmers' Markets.
“Everyone's Harvest is working closely with the Monterey County Health Department, local governments, and our healthcare partners to best serve the community,” said Norris. “We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation, and we have implemented a plan of action for our markets.”
The plan of action includes the following:
•All vendors will receive Everyone's Harvest Social Distancing Plan and we will be closely monitoring vendor operations.
•Everyone’s Harvest asks that all vendors, farmers, and customers not attend the market if they are sick with fever, sneezing, or coughing.
•Best Practices: Market operations will be conducted in accordance with Monterey County Health Department guidelines for farmers’ markets operating as essential businesses during shelter in place.
•Helping with Prevention: Hand sanitizer will be offered at the Information Booth, and Everyone's Harvest will monitor and, if necessary, restrict attendance so that the market attendees can maintain “social distancing” recommended by the California Department of Public Health. Market attendees are encouraged to keep 6 feet of personal space between themselves. Sanitizing solution will be used regularly at the Information Booth for any frequently touched items or equipment.
•Vendors will wear gloves whenever possible and wash their hands frequently (handwashing is available at all EH markets). Sampling of products is discontinued until further notice.
•Everyone’s Harvest is following all updates given on COVID-19, including guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Monterey County Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and local health officials.
•Everyone’s Harvest is changing its usual layout of its farmers’ markets in order to increase the amount of social distancing as much as possible. (See below.)
“We will continue to take the actions necessary to help protect the community,” said Norris. “Specifically, if we are notified of a staff member, vendor, or participant testing positive for COVID-19, they will be suspended from any of our certified farmers’ markets until they are medically cleared.”
In order to increase the amount of social distancing as much as possible, Everyone’s Harvest has changed its usual layout of its farmers’ markets.
The new layout splits the market into a waiting zone and a shopping/produce area.
There is a limit of 10 people maximum in the produce area and a limit to the number of people around a booth at one time, with the 6-foot social distancing parameters in effect. Unless a vendor has a two-tent setup, each vendor is limited to one customer at a time.
There are sanitizing station/table set up with wipes and hand sanitizer for customers to use before approaching vendor booths.
The market will have a list of what produce is being sold by the vendors that day and displaying it at a writing station so shoppers can write their grocery list with the items available and then be in and out of the market as quickly as possible.
Market managers will be on hand to assist customers with their shopping, maintaining the 6-foot rule and making sure shoppers aren’t waiting too long in the waiting area.
For more information, go to www.everyonesharvest.org or call (831) 384-6961.
About Everyone’s Harvest
Everyone’s Harvest was founded in 2002 by Iris Peppard building on her capstone project as a student at California State University Monterey Bay. Since then, the small nonprofit has grown into a robust, values-driven 501(c)3 organization. It operates five certified farmers’ markets and is a catalyst for health-related programs across Monterey County.
The mission is to provide access to healthy, affordable fruits and vegetables through certified farmers’ markets and community food programs. The vision is for every community to have a fair and sustainable food system.
In 2008, Pacific Grove chose Everyone’s Harvest as the organization to run their community farmers’ market. This opportunity was a turning point for Everyone’s Harvest, leading to increased collaborations and partnerships.
More than 2,000 families are served weekly by Everyone’s Harvest markets in Salinas, Marina, and Pacific Grove – with more than 25 small and mid-scale farmers serving them. Everyone’s Harvest takes pride in the growing community of people who value organic food and rely on Everyone’s Harvest for access to local fresh fruits and vegetables.
The farmers’ market locations serve diverse communities and low-income people. Local hospitals host Everyone’s Harvest Certified Farmers’ Markets at Natividad Medical Center and Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System. Everyone’s Harvest pioneered access to several public nutrition benefits at its farmers’ markets for everyone to access fresh, local, and organic foods.
In 2012, Everyone’s Harvest was presented with Edible Monterey Bay magazine’s nonprofit “Local Hero” award and in 2013 the Monterey County Weekly newspaper named Iris as one of the “25 for the Next 25” movers and shakers in Monterey County. Iris is always quick to point out, “My success is not just my own. It’s because of everyone involved. It’s about a movement. It’s about food justice.”
Today at Everyone’s Harvest:
Over 50 percent of Everyone’s Harvest Certified Farmers’ Markets farmers are certified organic and come from within a 100-mile radius of Monterey County.
All five of our Certified Farmers’ Markets serve low-income communities and accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), the modern day food stamp.
Two of our Certified Farmers’ Markets are partnerships with medical institutions – Natividad Medical Center and Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System – who both partner in the Fresh Rx program.
The organization offers free space to other nonprofits, community groups, and government entities at its markets for public outreach.
About Karen Gomez
Gomez graduated last year from CSU-Monterey Bay with a degree in Collaborative Health & Human Services and an interdisciplinary concentration of Public Administration/Nonprofit Management and Community Health. She is now pursuing her master’s degree in Public Administration at San Jose State University.
Gomez has been involved with various nonprofits for the past few years, and has enjoyed being able to apply the skills and knowledge she learned in school to real world challenges. She hopes to continuously help her community and make a difference. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking and taking spontaneous trips. She can be reached at [email protected]
Marci Bracco Cain
Salinas, CA 93901