In the Balise Healing Garden of the Hasbro Children’s Hospital courtyard, vines of tomatoes and beans wind from planters up pillars and spread across the gray sidewalks. Signs everywhere teach children about vegetables, encouraging them to eat the rainbow- colored bounty growing in front of them. Families mill about under the gazebo and on the playground. And on special days in the spring and summer, the Hope’s Harvest van arrives full of produce &mdsah; making this space a bit more crowded, colorful, and vibrant.
Over the past two years, Hope’s Harvest has partnered with Hasbro Children’s Hospital seven times to put on free farmers markets for patients and their families, bringing nutritious food to approximately 100 participants each time. Our team spends the few days before the market visiting small farms growing wide varieties of crops, so families can select from a rich array of fruits and vegetables.
Hasbro Children’s Hospital strives to serve children in all areas of their lives. In an interview with Turn to 10 WJAR‘s Tracey Wallace, Vice President of Pediatric Services at Lifespan describes Hasbro’s Balise Healing Garden and adjacent playground as going hand in hand with the medical care that children receive there. Wallace is adamant that this space is a source of nutrition education for young children and families, showing them that they can grow vegetables in small spaces and teaching about the importance of healthful food.
As the pandemic has raged, rates of food insecurity in Rhode Island have skyrocketed, disproportionately impacting households with children. Where 1 in 6 households in Rhode Island face food insecurity, the rate for families with children is 1 in 4. This is why Hasbro’s free market program and their larger effort to emphasize nutrition education among patients is so important. Hasbro serves over 10,000 children and families each year who have all had the opportunity to learn in the healing garden and over the past two years, many have left it laden with fresh produce after a farmers market.
Celeste Corcoran, Hasbro’s Community Outreach Program Director and a champion of bringing fresh food to Hasbro’s patients and families, has been a strong and valued partner of Hope’s Harvest over the past two years. Hasbro’s innovation and partnership is a perfect example of how community collaborations can bring joy to everyone involved in improving food security for our kids. Thank you, Hasbro!
Learn more about how to support Hasbro Children’s Hospital on their website.
Photos courtesy Hasbro Children’s Hospital