The Mid-South Health Market is an innovative approach to address the food insecurity, lack of fresh food options, and high incidences of preventable ailments (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, obesity) in the greater Bronzeville community. Organized by KOCO’s Bronzeville Anti-hunger Network (BAN), the Mid-South Health Market provides fresh produce, diet and nutrition information, and health screenings for more than 100 people on a monthly basis. The entire program is designed to enable clients to make healthier food and lifestyle choices through health and wellness education.
The program incorporates various elements into a cohesive 2-hour event. Participants hear presentations from medical professionals and nutritionists on:
- Overall lifestyle considerations, including abstinence from drugs and smoking;
- Healthy diets, portion size, and food preparation suggestions;
- Importance of exercise; and
- Relationship between the aforementioned items and preventable medical conditions; e.g. diabetes, hypertension, obesity
The Mid-South Health Market is designed to provide residents with the opportunity to improve the quality of their lives in very tangible ways over time through continued practice of the information shared. However, while immediate life-or-death impact was not an originally anticipated outcome; the Mid-South Health Market has become known for saving lives. In one instance, a program participant was informed his blood pressure was at the level of a stroke during his health screening, and was able to be taken to the nearest hospital for treatment. Left unchecked, he could have experienced a stroke, and his life could have been drastically changed for the worse. One woman found out she was diabetic through participating in the health screenings. Her glucose levels, and reported symptoms led the nurse to refer her immediately to a physician who discovered the presence of diabetes; and was able to get her the assistance she needed quickly to help her learn to manage the disease effectively. In other instances, participants inform the program coordinator the amount of weight they’ve lost, changes made to their diets, other positive dietary or nutritional behavioral modifications, and the general sense of feeling healthier. In isolated incidents, the nurses provided have provided immediate alcohol and smoking cessation counseling for the participants.
During this time window, participants also receive health screenings by nurses on-site. Then, as the participants leave, they are given a shopping bag full of fresh produce. In the past several months, physical activity has been introduced to give the participants some low-intensity exercise to demonstrate how easy an exercise regimen can be introduced into their lifestyle.