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University Celebrates Food Day at Lexington Market

11 December 2012 No Comment

The Office of Interprofessional Student Learning and Service Initiatives celebrated Food Day at Lexington Market with third-grade students from James McHenry Elementary/Middle School. (Photo by Ed Fishel)

COURTNEY JONES 

Food Day—created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy organization—is a nationwide effort to promote affordable, healthy, and sustainable eating. This year, the University’s Office of Interprofessional Student Learning and Service Initiatives (ISLSI), the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative’s (BFPI) “Get Fresh Lexington,” the city of Baltimore, and Lexington Market teamed up to offer a series of events on Oct. 23 geared toward patrons of the market and a class of third-grade students from James McHenry Elementary/Middle School (JMEMS). 

The celebration focused on healthy food options available at Lexington Market. The market is the largest continuously running market in the world—celebrating 220 years of operation this year. More than 80 merchants sell a variety of items from freshly cut fruit and fresh poultry to meats and classic Baltimore fare, such as crabcakes. 

In 2011, the market became the site of a joint initiative known as the UniverCity Partnership, which is co-led by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and University President Jay A. Perman, MD. The initiative is focused on revitalizing downtown Baltimore’s Westside by creating mixed-use development in the Lexington Market area. 

“Get Fresh Lexington” has been an important, short-term project in the UniverCity Partnership and will increase supply and demand of healthy and fresh food through a vendor- and consumer-based strategy in Baltimore City food deserts. There are currently 24 vendors participating in the “Get Fresh Lexington” initiative, which sparked the collaborative efforts of ISLSI and the city of Baltimore, including fun and interactive healthy lifestyle workshops and activities. 

During the Food Day event, patrons of the market were encouraged to participate in Zumba dancing lessons and to watch a live cooking demonstration, featuring fresh vegetables and fish purchased in the market. Patrons were able to stop by the information table to learn more about portion control, healthy food options, and ways to stay active. About 40-50 people participated in the activities and as a result of the event, requested more cooking demonstrations, substance abuse support groups, and Zumba classes. 

The JMEMS third-graders participated in an interactive, healthy-lifestyle session led by the Division of Growth and Nutrition, which is part of the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics. The session also incorporated lessons on healthy food choices and daily physical activities, such as preparing yogurt and fresh fruit parfaits, touring the market on a Food Day scavenger hunt, and participating in Zumba lessons. To find out how you can be involved in fut-ure events, please contact islsi@umaryland.edu

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