Rodale, LVHN partner to expand access to affordable produce


For several years now, the Rodale Institute's Mobile Market has been bringing fresh, organic produce to people who need it.

Now, Lehigh Valley Health Network is partnering with Rodale to expand and help even more people have access to healthy foods.

The partnership with LVHN is allowing the Rodale Institute to offer events like the one Thursday at the Mobile Market. A cooking demonstration, using ingredients offered at the Mobile Market, was held at Lehigh Valley Hospital Thursday morning.

"We found in our community health needs assessment, that a really large majority of our population in the Lehigh Valley alone suffer from food insecurity," said Erin Postel, health educator at LVHN.

Food insecurity means people who do not know where their next meal is coming from, especially fresh, healthy food options.

"Rodale Institute is really a global leader in organic agriculture, so we thought it was really a no-brainer to partner with them," Postel said.

The partnership officially launched Thursday. The Mobile Market will be traveling to four of LVHN's campuses over the coming weeks. Those visits are in addition to the stops the Mobile Market is already making, specifically targeting lower income areas where access to this type of produce is scarce.

The market aims to makes sure healthy food is not only accessible, but affordable.

"It's really the crux of the program to really impact access, you really have to address the affordability issue," said Jesse Barrett, food production specialist for the Rodale Institute.

Shoppers are able to use government programs like WIC and EBT cards to pay. The Rodale Institute hopes this partnership will now allow even more people take home these healthy foods.

"It's really important to have health networks really care about food as medicine and using food as preventative care, before you know... stuff like diabetes and high blood pressure ... things like that," Barrett said.

One of the main stops the mobile market makes is at the Allentown YMCA every Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.