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Davis, California

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

UC Davis students collaborate with Sacramento farmers market to educate customers on healthy dietary choices


Organization answers customers’ dietary questions and hosts fun activities to promote health and exercise

The UC Davis Medical Center collaborated with the Oak Park Farmers Market, a local vendor market in Sacramento, to assist shoppers purchasing produce as well as answer questions pertaining to nutrition and food choices.  

The program runs like a market concierge service, in which nutrition students from UC Davis volunteer to shop with the customers and advise them on dietary choices.

UC Davis’ Recognizing Illnesses Very Early and Responding (RIVER) organization volunteered at the market earlier this year. RIVER is a public health organization that focuses on the preventive aspects of medicine, specifically through nutrition and exercise. The organization’s goal is to bridge the gap between preventive care and medical treatment for communities in the greater Sacramento area.

The organization volunteered at the market during Spring Quarter of last year, and attended on Saturdays with eight to 12 students. They would help out with activities such as the morning early stretch, where they helped farmers market attendees work the muscle groups, such as hips and back, and provided them with stretches best fit for their fitness levels. They also worked with customers based on their health levels and advised them on proper items to purchase.

The organization also gave out prizes with the food decorative program at the market and educated children on fruit and vegetable facts, showing them how they could implement these fruits and vegetables into their daily diet in a fun and appetizing way.

Joany Titherington, manager of the Oak Park Farmers Market, believes this has been a great way to educate customers.

“I think it’s an opportunity to engage in a real way,” Titherington said. “It is a way for [the customers] to take ownership of their health, it’s about what we do with the energy of our food and I like RIVER’s approach. It’s their one-stop shop for customers. One customer who has been shopping with us for a while was asking, ‘what should I eat?’ and I don’t always have the time to spend with a single customer so it’s nice to have an engaging interactive group of students to answer questions.”

Third-year clinical nutrition major Sophia Garcia knows how important it is to educate the community on the importance of food choices.

“There are such high rates of diabetes and obesity right now, what people need is the proper education on diet and the right resources for good food, and the farmers market working with nutrition here at Davis seems to be exactly that,” Garcia said.

Ryan Holer, a third-year nutrition science major, has volunteered for a nutrition program and knows the value it brings to communities.

“People get excited knowing there is someone who knows about health and that can guide them on what they should eat,” Holer said. “Most people just want someone to advise them in a fun and non-forceful way.”

Titherington believes that RIVER will return in the summer and will likely add a cooking demonstration to the farmers market.

Written by: Demi Caceres — campus@theaggie.org


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