MercyOne, Country Roads Produce partner

Submitted photoTaren Whisler, of MercyOne Centerville Medical Center, and Melanie Sales, of Country Roads Produce, pose with some freshly delivered produce.

A local hospital and local produce farm have partnered to promote and encourage healthy habits to employees.

Taren Whisler, the Employee Health and Health Promotions Manager at MercyOne Centerville Medical Center, said healthy employees are happy ones, and the former part of that equation is a big part of her job.

“I do different activities at the hospital that allow employees to be physically engaged as well as provide nutritional education, and also focus on their emotional and mental health.”

Studies show encouraging and promoting regular exercise and eating healthy at work automatically adds a social atmosphere and improves overall morale. Energized employees promote positivism, show less absenteeism and are proven to have reduced anxiety, tension and stress, says Whisler.

So to do that, Whisler helped spur a partnership between the hospital and Country Roads Produce, of Moravia, owned by Mike and Melanie Sales. They have grown fresh produce for over 13 years and currently provide produce to 11 different grocery stores and restaurants in Southern Iowa, as well as two food cooperatives.

The partnership allows hospital employees an opportunity to purchase freshly grown and harvested produce without leaving the hospital to pick it up.

“Melanie sends me an email with the produce that is available for the week, I then pass this along to the employees who place their order," Whisler said. "Melanie then delivers the produce directly to the hospital. It is that simple. It is so great to be able to do this, and it makes it radically convenient for the staff that work long hours or odd hours and are not able to get to the produce stand in time. The feedback from the employees has been nothing but positive. I love that we are able to provide this service as well as support one of our local small business owners.”

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