Cindy Thomas of Toledo shops for vegetables at the Flower Market’s Garden Grocer on Monroe Street.
THE BLADE/LORI KING
Please don’t eat the daisies. Try the apples or pasta instead.
The Flower Market, a longtime favorite spot in West Toledo where customers could pick up a bouquet of roses or other horticultural arrangements, now has an edible side to its offerings with the addition of the Garden Grocer — a marketlike aisle that carries a small variety of fresh produce, vegetables, nonfat dairy, and bread and other whole grains.
Stephanie Cihon, director of advocacy and community relations for ProMedica, which owns the Flower Market at 3890 Monroe St. near Toledo Hospital, said the grocery items were added as part of ProMedica’s “Come to the Table” initiative that tries to address the ties between hunger and good nutrition.
Basically, the community surrounding the Flower Market “doesn’t have access to a full grocery store,” Ms. Cihon said.
ProMedica, she added, saw an opportunity to help the community while promoting better nutrition by stocking the Flower Market with 37 food items — including nine fresh fruits and vegetables — at retail prices comparable to area supermarkets.
On Friday, the Flower Market showed off its new additions to the neighborhood, and also staged a health fair featuring blood pressure checks and other screenings. ProMedica brought two of its dietitians to discuss healthy food alternatives and demonstrate food recipes made from the products sold at the Flower Market.
Gaye Martin, manager of community advocacy for ProMedica and the Flower Market, said selling produce and vegetables at the Flower Market seemed like a natural fit. Not only did ProMedica send mailers to local residents, it sent announcements to Toledo Hospital employees and nearby ProMedica offices to let them know.
“Everybody can benefit and we will be keeping the prices low,” she said.
Ms. Cihon said the Flower Market operation will apply to the federal government for permission to accept benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC).
Chloe Berdan, one of two ProMedica dietitians at the health fair, said she was encouraged by local customers’ positive response to the food items and the idea that healthier food choices are available with just a little effort.
Ms. Berdan whipped up a breakfast meal of yogurt, oats, and fruit that was a hit with customers who tried it. “We’re just trying [to] encourage good eating habits, increasing fruits and vegetables,” she said.
“People are happy to see new ideas and healthy ways they can add fruits to their diet and we’ve had a good response so far,” she said.
Too many people have gotten away from healthier choices, she added. “People are eating a lot of processed foods and it’s hard to get them back to whole foods, such as whole fruits and whole vegetables, and to realize that these can be delicious, they can be nutritious, and they can help with preventing diseases and maintaining a healthy weight.
“So we’re trying to make it a win-win: Yes, it tastes good, but it’s good for you. We want to let people know that those two can work together,” Ms. Berdan said.
Contact Jon Chavez at: email@example.com or 419-724-6128.