Workers at Advance Storage Products left work Friday with lunch boxes that were fuller than when employees walked through the door to begin their shifts.

They had the opportunity to take advantage of a pop-up farmers market at the facility, made possible because of a partnership between Polk Medical Center and the Rockmart Farmers Market.

“Almost all of the health issues our community faces relate back to nutrition, so a primary goal of Live Well Polk! is to help our community eat healthier,” said Tifani Kinard, Administrator and Chief Nursing Officer at Polk Medical Center. “Unfortunately, one of the biggest hinderances to achieving that goal is access to healthy foods,

Kinard and her team set about to diminish that challenge. One of the of the first ideas they came up with was to take the market on the road.

“The Rockmart Farmers Market is one of the best in the state, but not everyone has the ability to take advantage of it,” she continued. “The more we talked, the more we realized that we could be a conduit for those whose access is limited.”

The hospital already had a partnership with Advance Storage so it made sense to pilot the program with the Cedartown manufacturer.

“It’s difficult for many of our employees to get to the market because they’re either at work or on their way to work when it’s open,” said Lorraine Waits, Advance Storage’s office manager. “So, when our friends at Polk Medical Center brought this idea to us, we didn’t think twice about it.”

Waits was so thrilled with the results that she plans to make it an ongoing offering.

“Our goal is to work with the hospital and the farmers market to provide this access on a weekly basis,” she said. “Our employees will be able to pre-order produce and we’ll pick it up from the market and bring it back to the plant before they leave for the day.”

This is exactly what Kinard had in mind when the project was developed.

“To me, everything about this is good for the community,” she said. “Not only are we getting fresh fruit and produce into the hands of people who need it, but we’re doing it in a way that benefits the local economy because we’re making the purchases from area farmers. This is what Live Well Polk! is all about.”

Kinard also said the hospital has bigger plans for these markets.

“We want to expand upon this idea and host these markets throughout the county,” she said. “We would love to work with other businesses, churches, civic groups and community organizations to reach as many people as possible with the live well message.”

Rockmart Farmers Market is open every Thursday from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. in downtown Rockmart.

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