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Veterans Health Administration

Vets Shop for Healthy Food at Palo Alto Farmer’s Market

Men and women shopping at a farmers market Men and women shopping at a farmers market Men and women shopping at a farmers market 
Men and women shopping at a farmers market

A bustling farmer’s market has become an important part of campus life at the VA Palo Alto Calif. Health Care System.

The popular market helps Veterans and employees at the VA medical center to find fresh, healthy foods, provides a social gathering place (in the sun), allows inpatients to get out for a stroll with their families, and much more.

According to Dr. Wendy Thanassi, Director of Occupational Health, the farmer’s market was created to provide Veterans and employees with healthy food options and an education on the benefits of locally grown and organic foods to promote healthy eating choices.

Dr. Thanassi noted that there was a large increase in the number of Veterans and employees who tried foods they had never tasted or cooked before. “More than 60 percent of our employees now say they are eating and buying more fresh foods as a result of the farmer’s market.”

A survey of over 600 employees showed that 85 percent reported increased job satisfaction due to having the farmer’s market on campus.

“The farmer’s market was created to provide Veterans and employees with healthy food options.”

— Dr. Wendy Thanassi, Director of Occupational Health

The market is held every week from April to November, right in front of the main entrance.

Vets and employees are serenaded each week while shopping by the VAPA Arts musicians (a musical group made up of VA employees) and local groups. A recent Wednesday featured the music of the Rattlesnake Ridge Band.

The organizer is the Pacific Coast Farmer’s Market Association, which selects the vendors from all over California and does all of the set-up and clean-up. The booths feature disabled Veteran gardeners, goat cheese makers, homemade pies, orchids, organic fruits and vegetables, bread products, and homemade olive oils.

One vendor who offers bolani (stuffed flatbread) is an Afghani woman who came to America alone at age 19.

Dr. Thanassi adds, “I like having the family from Afghanistan here interacting with our OEF/OIF Veterans and I love her strength in coming to America and becoming a very successful entrepreneur.”

Find additional information such as recipes and nutritional advice on the market’s web site.