There’s a healthy buzz around the café at Christiana Care’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center beginning around 11:00 am every Thursday morning.
That’s when a whirl of college students sweep in and transform an area in the west side of the center’s building into a bustling market of fresh produce for patients and caregivers.
The delicious fruits and vegetables delivered to the hospital by University of Delaware students each week help ensure cancer patients have access to nutritious foods they might not otherwise easily find. This is the second year of the partnership between UD nutrition students, the University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Christiana.
“We know that when patients with cancer have a healthy diet, it definitely helps with their treatment,” said Oshay Johnson, a nutrition graduate student at UD. “And we also know that a lot of these patients sometimes don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Tiffany Whary, a registered dietician at Christiana Care, said the farmer’s market’s success show’s there is “definitely a need” for the program.
“In the two years that I’ve been here we would get the table set up for the market, and no sooner would it be set up and the produce was gone.”
Whary said the program originated with a call to Mike Popovich with UD Fresh to You and quickly evolved into a collaboration with the College of Health Sciences that provides both fresh food and education. The produce grown on UD’s farm is provided at no cost to patients and their caregivers.
Prostate cancer patient Curtis Singleton said he learned about the connection between healthy eating and fighting the disease when he was diagnosed ten years ago. Singleton said the farmer’s market shows “Christiana cares about their patients after they’ve been treated and are successfully in remission.”
According to UD, produce is usually gone within an hour and the program will continue into the fall, likely winding down in November.