JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A Region 8 hospital wants to get people healthy before they hit their doors.
NEA Baptist Hospital hosted its third annual Farmers Market on Thursday.
Danial Reed, the hospital's marketing coordinator, said they began the event to expose people to healthy options.
"We started this event as a way to provide more access to our employees and to our community to be able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that are grown locally," Reed said. "It is very important to be able to support our local growers and farmers and even our crafters. We have a lot of handmade items here. Beyond providing access to healthy foods, it's just great to be able to bring the community together."
Trumann resident Carol White came out to the market for the first time.
She said she thought the idea for the hospital to host such an event was wonderful.
"I think it's marvelous, and I'm enjoying it," White said. "I'm trying my first Cherokee Tomatoes because I heard they were just delicious and I bought some produce and some strawberry jam."
Reed said the most important form of defense is education and being proactive.
"Prevention is so important," Reed said. "We want to help our community learn healthy lifestyles, healthy habits and obviously eating healthy is a big part of that. We were excited so many produce vendors were able to make it out today."
There were also free blood pressure and cholesterol screenings taking place.
Reed said they also started something new this year.
"Each market has a different focus," Reed said. "Today is mental health. So, we have several vendors who focused on mental health and those services around that. There is a big focus on Alzheimer's and depression. Being able to provide that education and awareness for important health issues is very important to us."
Reed said they had a large number of people come out for their first farmers market of the summer.
"It's been a great turn out," Reed said. "We've had nearly 300 participants coming in and out. The day's not done and some of our vendors have already sold out of produce. For the first event of the year, this was a great way to kick off the summer."
Reed said when people need to think about being proactive now so bigger problems don't show up later.
"It's easier to start with prevention than it is to deal with the repercussions later if you don't," Reed said. "It's not the easiest thing to change your lifestyle and to eat healthy and to be active and to really maintain your health. But in the long run there are so many benefits to being ahead of that. You feel better, you look better, and your quality of life is better."
Around 20 vendors were set up in their parking lot.
The Farmers Market will take place on the second and fourth Thursdays in June and July.
The next NEA Baptist Farmers Market will take place on June 23 from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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