Letter: Support needed for Power of Produce program 

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Albert Lea Farmers Market initiated a childrens program at the market last year, Power of Produce, which we found to be very popular with young families (both the parents and children themselves). The local SHIP (Statewide Health Improvemet Partnership) funded the program, and our local 4-H staff supported the program by providing interesting and fun activities at the market for the kids.

We are all aware of the prevelence of obesity today, and the fact that many children are eating too many high-calorie, nutrient-lacking foods. One of the reasons may be that frequently those foods are less expensive, and also, our children have acquired a taste for those foods.    

The Power of Produce program encourages children to take ownership of purchasing fruits and vegetables of their choice by giving each child a free $2 token each market day, which can be used that day, or saved for later use. Kids must live in Freeborn County.

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Last year, 357 children participated, more young families came to the market, local growers benefited and more of the consumer dollars were kept in Freeborn County.

This program encourages children to explore the farmers market and learn about the different fruits and vegetables, while also learning more about how local food is grown and connecting with local farmers.

Because the Freeborn County Statewide Health Improvement Partnership cannot fund the program this year, we are looking for grants, donations and contributions from local businesses, clubs,  individuals or groups who support the idea that we all need to change our eating habits and start eating more fruits and vegetables.    We believe the best age to establish good eating habits is in the younger children, and that is the goal of this program.

Kids learn that not only are fruits and vegetables good for them, but can also be very delicious (especially when locally grown and freshly picked).

The program last year got rave reviews from parents and was also very popular with the kids (who often would remind their parents that it was market day). One parent remarked, “I liked that my children got excited about what they could buy with their tokens. They were picking out different veggies each week and were actually eating them since they were buying them.”

I hope we can count on your support for this program.    The Albert Lea Farmers Market is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, so all contributions are tax deductible. Thank you.

Verlys Huntley