August 28, 2008 – It’s a win for both the University of Utah community and local food growers and artisans today with the opening of the U’s farmer’s market.
The small city of nearly 50,000 will have access to a new supply of fresh and healthy foods. The university food service provider also will be purchasing produce in bulk to supplement ingredients used in servicing campus cafeterias. In addition, local growers and producers of unique arts and crafts will gain by tapping into a new mid-week market for their wares.
“The U’s farmer’s market will be a big benefit to members of the university community and residents of surrounding neighborhoods, who place a high value on healthy, fresh, local produce and have few choices to purchase nearby,” said Brooke Gardner, manager of the program. “It is also an opportunity for our local growers and arts vendors to increase sales and extend market reach, and we’re pleased to be able to support them in this way.”
The market will operate each Thursday from August 28 to October 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The open air market is open to the public and will be located on the lawn east of the Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre near the stadium TRAX station and parking lot. In concert with supporting local small businesses, everything available at the market will be grown or produced by its vendors.
WellU, promoting health awareness
The idea for the farmer’s market grew out of a comprehensive wellness program begun two years ago by the university’s human resources team. The goal of the program, called WellU, is to inspire employees to make healthy and sustainable lifestyle changes, which may in turn reduce health care costs and improve productivity for one of the state’s largest employers.
“Everyone talks about managing health care costs,” said Joan Gines, associate vice president for human resources. “We decided to take action and we’re very pleased that the program has just caught fire, all over campus.”
A major component of the program is a significant discount in health care premiums — $40 a month, or $480 per year – for participating in a system that lets the employee track key measures of his or her health. A host of services are made available through university programs or departments for employees interested in making changes. Examples of available services include dietician consultation, referrals for disease counseling, lectures, and prescriptions for exercise through the campus fitness and outdoor recreation programs. To date, 62 percent of university employees are participating in the WellU program.