From left, Zahira Felipe, Yardlie Toussaint-Foster, DO, Monique Pacheco, from Star Community Health Sigal Center, were the first customers on July 6 to buy fresh, healthy produce and prepared foods from the Kellwyn Foundation's mobile produce market.
Since early July, a large, refrigerated truck advising “Eat Real Food” on its side panels, and containing fresh produce and other nutritious goods for purchase, is parked each Wednesday at the Star Community Health Sigal Center at Chew and Fifth streets, in Allentown.
These weekly visits, 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,” says Ford, who grew up in this economically challenged area. “We’re changing that.”
From 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, neighbors, staff and patients of the Center and St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus across the street have convenient access to these healthy 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 medically underserved.
“Food is medicine,” says Eric Ruth, Kellyn Foundation CEO, explaining the philosophy of this non-profit organization whose mission is to help reverse chronic diseases through healthy eating and other positive behaviors. He recalls 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,’” adds 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 Valley), offers 75 delicious items, many sourced from local farms, as well as fresh, non-local fruits and veggies. Beets, lettuce, broccoli, onions, bananas, apples were just a few of the foods offered to customers on a 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 kitchen in Tatamy, rounded out that day’s menu.
After buying a bag of produce from Kellyn rep Pat Henning on July 6, the first market day, Monique Pacheco, practice administrator for Star Community Health, said she’s “excited to have this (truck) here,” and that she’ll tell patients about it.
She was among the first customers at the market, 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 her purchases. “Food is love.”
Kellyn’s produce trucks and markets, operated by its staff and volunteers, currently visit 15 sites weekly throughout the valley, including schools, health and civic organizations, businesses and community centers.
For more information about Star Community Health, visit https://starcommunityhealth.org/.