Health Science students bring the market to school

The Healthy Food Booth program is being run by Rac, Beresh, Peterson, and Sarah Finch (Registered Dietitian and a PhD candidate)

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Winter’s no excuse to skimp on eating your greens, and thanks to a handful of Health and Science students you don’t even have to venture out in the cold to stock-up on some fresh, and inexpensive, fruits and vegetables for the family.

“The booth shares up-to-date health information while providing access to low cost fresh produce for the Health Sciences and RUH communities,” explained Tatiana Rac, one of the food booth founders alongside fellow medical student Erin Beresh.  “It brings us closer towards establishing a culture of health promotion, disease prevention, and food security.”

Originally the group was hoping to set the booth up in the RUH, but now – with the support of FLIP (Fostering Leadership through Innovative Programs) and Saskatchewan Medical Association – they’ve decided to use the E-wing Atrium in the Health Sciences Building in the hopes of drawing staff, students, and the families of RUH patients alike to the local table.

“In that building we’re supposed to be promoting health, but we have nothing but vending machines and Tim Hortons,” explained Jennifer Peterson, a Public Health student who is part of the group of College of Medicine students hosting the booth. “People were pleased to see that they could just grab an apple or banana for a snack, and even stuff like spinach that went over really well!”

The produce is being purchased at wholesale prices from CHEP, an organization that is working to help improve access to healthy food, which means that when it is offered at the monthly booth the prices are lower than the cost of buying fresh fruit elsewhere on campus. The produce available at their first booth in January was limited to apples, bananas, spinach and baby carrots – but the response was so enthusiastic that organizers are hoping to have a broader selection at the February booth.

“We did a survey of what other produce people would like to see,” Peterson continued. “Lots of answers were oranges, avocados and cucumbers – so we’re going to try to bring in more next time.”

The fruit was being sold at three-pieces for $1, allowing the students and staff to mix-and-match their own snack for a low prices. But the biggest surprise, according to Peterson, was the popularity of the spinach - which sold out.

“We were surprised it went over so well,” Peterson said with a laugh. “It’s not something someone’s going to take back to their desk to eat, but a lot of people bought it to take home – and we were kind of surprised because we figured it was the grab-and-go stuff that would be most popular.”

Moving forward, the group is hoping to increase the engagement at the booths by offering health-specific information as well as a venue for healthy snacking.

The Healthy Food Booth program is being run by Rac, Beresh, Peterson, and Sarah Finch (Registered Dietitian and a PhD candidate) with the next sale taking place on Tuesday, February 24th between 10:00am and 1:00pm in the E Wing atrium of the Health Sciences Building.