St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus Helps Improve Access to Fresh Food

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From left, Zahira Felipe, Yardlie Toussaint-Foster, DO, and Monique Pacheco from Star Community Health Sigal Center in Allentown were among the first customers July 6 to buy fresh, healthy produce and prepared foods from the Kellwyn Foundation’s mobile produce market outside St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus in Allentown. Pacheco, practice administrator, said she “was excited to have this here. I will tell the patients about it!” (Credit: St. Luke’s University Health Network)

Since early July, a refrigerated truck advising passers-by to “Eat Real Food” and stocked with fresh produce and other nutritious food for purchase has been parked each Wednesday at the Star Community Health Sigal Center at Chew and Fifth streets in Allentown.

These weekly visits by a mobile market, brought here by the Kellyn Foundation, were arranged by St. Luke’s Sacred Heart President Frank Ford, who believes that eating fresh fruits and vegetables and nutritious, plant-based food, is important for a healthy life.

“So many of the lifestyle-related problems we treat here result from eating too many unhealthy, processed foods, because people don’t have access to fresh foods in their neighborhoods,” said Ford, who grew up in this economically-challenged area. “We’re changing that.”

From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., neighbors, staff and patients of the Center and St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus across the street have convenient access to healthy, fresh foods during their busy days. Star Community Health provides comprehensive well and sick primary care, OB/GYN, dental and pediatric health services to the surrounding communities and their medically underserved residents.

“Food is medicine,” said Eric Ruth, Kellyn Foundation CEO, explaining the philosophy of the nonprofit organization whose mission is to help reverse chronic diseases through healthy eating and other positive behaviors. He recalled a man in Bethlehem who overcame heart disease and type 2 diabetes by regularly adding fresh, unprocessed foods to his diet and getting regular exercise.

“Now the man tells people, ‘I did this, and you can do this, too,’” added Ruth. “Eating this way, he has lost weight and now has more energy.”

The “rolling produce department,” as Ruth calls the truck (Kellyn operates two of them in the Lehigh Valley), offers 75 delicious items, many sourced from local farms, as well as fresh, non-local fruits and veggies. Beets, lettuce, broccoli, onions, bananas and apples were just a few of the foods offered to customers one recent Wednesday at the Sigal Center.

A selection of whole grains, freshly-baked breads, ready-to-eat lunches and other mouth-watering meals, prepared at the Foundation’s Tatamy kitchen, rounded out the day’s menu.

After buying a bag of produce from Kellyn representative Pat Henning July 6, the first market day, Monique Pacheco, practice administrator for Star Community Health, said she’s “excited to have this (truck) here.” She planned to tell patients about it, she added.

Pacheco was among the first customers at the market, where she was joined by Zahira Felipe, medical assistant, and Yardlie Toussaint-Foster, DO, OB/GYN provider, also from the Sigal Center.

“This is great,” said Dr. Toussaint-Foster, beaming as she showed off her purchases. “Food is love.”

Kellyn’s produce trucks and mobile markets currently visit 15 area schools, health and civic organizations, businesses and community centers each week, including:

  • Mondays from 4 to 5:30 p.m., Freemansburg Elementary School (501 Monroe St., Freemansburg, PA 18017). Online Order & Pickup ONLY
  • Tuesdays from 3:30 to 6 p.m., Fountain Hill Borough Hall (941 Long St., Fountain Hill, PA 18015)
  • Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m., South Bethlehem Greenway (Polk Street & Greenway, Bethlehem, PA 18015)

You can find the complete list of Eat Real Food Mobile Market site locations along with a weekly Lifestyle Medicine Meals prepared food menu on the Kellyn Foundation website.

For more information about Star Community Health, visit StarCommunityHealth.org.

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