Holiday Flair Enhances Hospital’s Monthly Produce Market 

December 22, 2023

Dec. 21 was the third Thursday of the month, which means that veterans and active and reserve military members started lining up in their vehicles well before the 11 a.m. opening of the Farmers Market at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital on Springs Road.

This monthly produce distribution had a holiday touch as volunteers with stocking caps greeted the visitors with warm wishes as well as bags of free fruits and vegetables. 

Thursday’s event was the 60th farmers market at the VA Hospital, said Patrick Kirby, public affairs officer. He was joined by representatives of the medical center’s partner in the distribution, the Greater Boston Food Bank. 

Also celebrating the holidays by donating their time at the scene were the commander of the 66th Air Group at Hanscom Air Force Base, Col. Taona Enriquez, and Chief Master Sgt. Alan Weary, installation command chief. The hospital’s director and assistant director, Dr. Joan Clifford and Kendra Lee, were also on hand, along with the chief of staff Dr. Herimone Chappell. 

They all took turns bagging and distributing food and interacting with volunteers and clients.  

Kirby said the contents of the produce packages vary with the season. December is a time for root vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, and squash, as well as yucca root. 

Col. Taona Enriquez, commander of the 66 th Air Group at Hanscom Air Force Base, helps distribute food at the monthly Farmers Market at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital on Thursday. U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Maki

“We know people are going to ask, ‘What do we do with this?’ so we included a card with recipes,” said Kirby.

Casey Sloan coordinated the assembly line of packaging: a plastic bag made the rounds of 10 stations, with volunteers adding one item at each stop. On Thursday the workers included folks from the Cambridge Savings Bank, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Novartis.

Sloan is a specialist with the hospital’s Center for Development and Engagement, formerly Voluntary Services. The unit is directed by Laurel Holland of Bedford, who was on the scene on Thursday with other hospital leaders.

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