A Positive Food System Shift

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Fresh Local Food for Families

Farmers Market season is finally upon us! This means a wide selection of fresh, colorful and tasty homegrown produce. We hope the markets are part of your weekly routine, but have you taken the whole family? The festive atmosphere, community vibe, and friendly vendors are all free entertainment for the little ones. There are also great health lessons learned when you include children in the grocery shopping process.

  • Farmers markets help foster adventurous eating.
  • Kids are exposed to new foods, which helps develop healthy eating habits.
  • Farmers markets provide an opportunity for kids to ask questions about fruits and veggies that are new to them. This creates teachable moments about food and nutrition (PBS).
  • Children are encouraged to investigate. “Allowing children to pick up the produce, explore the texture and fresh aromas gives them ownership in the process, which can carry over to meal time” (PBS)
  • Farmers Markets provide a wonderful environment for family bonding often including bands, interactive stands and tasty foods. (A Trip to The Farmers Market with Kids-in-Tow)

It’s no coincidence that so many people are promoting farmers markets. It’s one of the easier ways to purchase locally sourced foods. And as we learn more about the personal, social and environmental benefits of local agriculture, businesses and government are stepping up to promote farmers markets.

Funding for the Farmers Markets

As part of the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, qualified WIC enrolled families can receive an additional $30 benefit in the form of Farmers Market Nutrition Checks for purchasing locally grown fruits and veggies at authorized farmers markets. The benefits can be spent between June 1st and October 31st and many locally markets. Contact our WIC Division to see if you qualify for nutrition education and food supplements.

The members and families of the Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh can participate in the United Way funded Bonus 10 program. The summer program is for Club families who receive EBT food-share. For each summer month (June-August) that families that spend $10 of their EBT funds at the Oshkosh Farmer’s Markets, they receive an additional $10 to spend at the market. During Boys & Girls Club trips the children receive tokens to make their own purchases of healthy food. “It is exciting to see kids choose fresh fruits and vegetables with smiles on their faces and learn the value of money as well as learn how to eat healthy.”

Benefits of Purchasing Local Foods

“Connecting rural to urban, farmer to consumer, and fresh ingredients to our diets, farmers markets are becoming economic and community centerpieces in cities and towns across the US” (USDA). As a result there are many benefits for families, farmers and local economies.

  • Farmers: Buying local foods supports the farmers in our area by creating income opportunities to quickly and directly market to the consumer.
  • Local Community: Having food produced, processed, distributed and sold within the same region, allows money to stay in the local community.
  • Nutrition and Taste: Local produce can be better for our health because it is harvested at its prime maturity when it is the most nutritious and delicious.
  • Environmentally Healthy: The produce is better for the planet because it travels a shorter distance, cutting down on transportation emissions. (In the United States, the most frequently cited statistic is that food travels 1,500 miles on average from farm to consumer, Worldwatch Institute.)

Resources to Spark Your Child’s Interest in Farmers Markets and Food

Food for Thought

The public health community is thrilled to see so much public interest as we work to prioritize nutrition. After years of food systems focusing on convenience and economic factors, there finally seems to be a shift in perspective. Communities are focusing on improving access through policy/environment/system changes. If you want to get involved locally contact the Health Food & Beverages Team from re:TH!NK.

Stay connected to the many nutrition resources and tips we provide year round through our Facebook and Twitter pages: @WinnebagoHealth

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Winnebago County Health Department

Vision: The Winnebago County Health Department is a leader in creating a culture that optimizes health and wellness in our community. Mission: Winnebago County Health Department leads change by providing services and building partnerships that strengthen the community.

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