The Lahey-New Entry Farmer’s Market Program continues in its 7th year, dedicated to providing free shares of fresh fruits and vegetables to older adults in Middlesex County. A collaboration between the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project and Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, the program distributed 255 shares throughout the farming season. Pre- and post-surveys of 2021 participants identified risk factors facing the older adult population and identified the most vulnerable members. Survey data indicated that barriers to food access prevalent among participants include lower income, living alone, consuming under the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, and having trouble accessing transportation. Food insecurity was directly measured within this population, indicating that 13% and 14% of participants within the pre- and post-survey respectively qualified as food insecure. The program met its goals this season as the majority of participants affirmed that they consumed more variety and quantity of fruits and vegetables. The FMP not only reduces barriers to food access but promotes social engagement through attendance in the market, as nearly half of participants indicated that participation in the FMP decreased their feelings of social isolation.
Committed to community-oriented health promotion, the FMP serves as an invaluable resource to local older adults by increasing access to nutritious produce, identifying and reaching those most vulnerable, and fostering
social connectedness within the greater community.