MAYWOOD, Ill. — For years, Maywood residents traveled miles to the nearest grocery store to find a healthy selection of fresh fruits and vegetables.
To help shorten their trips, Loyola University Health System and students from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine have teamed up with the Village of Maywood Special Events Committee, Maywood Public Library, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners Program and community residents to run the 3rd Annual Maywood Multicultural Farmers Market.
The market will feature health screenings and exercise and cooking tips and will take place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., every Saturday, June 5 through Oct. 16, at the Maywood Public Library, 121 S. Fifth Ave., Maywood.
Since its inception, the farmers market has been a nutritional lifeline to the people of Maywood, an area that has high levels of chronic illnesses that are partially caused and worsened by poor eating and exercise habits. Until the recent opening of a grocery store on Fifth Avenue, Maywood was without a full-fledged market for 15 years.
“For years, Maywood residents had no access to fresh fruits and vegetables, which could help prevent serious, chronic health problems,” said Lena Hatchett, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Stritch School of Medicine, one of the organizers of the farmers market. “We’re proud that we were able to provide badly needed produce and we plan to do so for many more years to come.”
Through October, Maywood area residents will be able to purchase low-cost ethnic fruit and vegetables, herbs, arts and crafts, flowers and gourmet items produced by local Latino, Asian-American and African-American farmers and gardeners at the market. The number of vendors at the market and the variety of offerings will widen as the growing season progresses.
The market will also feature entertainment, gardening advice, tips on cooking low-fat, nutritious meals, free samples, methods to lower stress and reduce weight, fun exercises and information on the link between diet and blood pressure and hidden fat in foods. Medical students will offer free blood pressure checks, blood-sugar level screenings and obesity awareness during the health fair.
“The Maywood Multicultural Farmers Market will help us to prevent disease and to build healthy eating habits among area families, many of whom are at risk for life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure,” said Hatchett, a public health researcher who has worked for more than a decade at reducing racial and ethnic health disparities.
Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine is located in a state-of-the-art educational facility on the campus of Loyola University Medical Center, 2160 S. First Ave., Maywood. The school, which provides instruction to 520 medical students, has been in the vanguard of institutions that have created new, active learning curricula to help students meet the challenges of 21st century health care. An estimated 8,000 to 9,000 students compete each year for 130 openings in the Stritch medical school’s first-year class. In addition to the more than 500 students, Loyola’s medical educational programs provide instruction and training to an estimated 400 residents and 100 fellows.