Cook County partnering to offer Fresh Food Markets

Some south suburban residents are getting easier access to fresh fruits and vegetables through a partnership between the Cook County Health & Hospitals System and nonprofit Black Oaks Center.

They’ve established Fresh Food Markets at the system’s Oak Forest Health Center and Robbins Health Center, and a third will start Monday at the Cottage Grove Health Center in Ford Heights. The markets will be held weekly.

CCHHS is providing space at the health centers for Black Oaks, which operates the Healthy Food Hub in Chicago, and the system is also providing Link Match Coupons that offer a double value to people using SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also called LINK. The coupons also are available to those using WIC Farmers Market Coupons or Senior Farmers Market Coupons, according to Kathy Chan, the system’s director of policy.

Up to $20 in Link Match Coupons per market, per week will be available, she said.

The markets also accept cash, credit and debit cards.

Chan said the Health & Hospitals System “recognizes that good health requires more than just access to high-quality health care,” and that providing access to “fresh, healthy produce is another way that we can promote good health.”

The first market was held July 12 at Oak Forest Health Center, 15900 S. Cicero, and will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Wednesday. The second began Friday at Robbins Health Center, 13450 S. Kedzie Ave., and will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Friday at that location.

The first market at the Cottage Grove Health Center, 1645 Cottage Grove Ave., Ford Heights, will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and take place at that same time on subsequent Mondays.

The Link Match Coupon program is supported in part by a two-year grant program, according to Chan.

The outdoor markets will continue to run weekly through early October, and, prior to winter, the county will assess how often the markets will be held and at what locations, she said.

The health system is spreading the word about the markets to its patients, staff and community partners, and a spokeswoman said an estimated 100 people came out for the initial July 12 market in Oak Forest, and about 50 were at the first market on Friday at Robbins.

Twitter @mnolan_J

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