PARKERSBURG – Children are learning the value of eating fruits and vegetables through a program through the WVU extension service because they can buy local produce.
The Kids Market @ The Store program was created by the WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program and it allows children to purchase fruits and vegetables for free at participating outlets in their county, said WVU health educator Shaley Hughes. Extension Service.
The program, which runs from July 5 to August 16, is funded by several sources, including the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, the Coplin Clinic and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The program is open to families with children aged 2 to 17.
Each of the participating families receives $30 in tokens to spend, and each child in each family receives a market bag and passport (provided by extension service funding) as well as a “I like vegetables” book.
“Kids walk into the store and spend their tokens to buy produce from local farmers,” said Hugh. “They are able to choose it themselves.
“The idea is to get them excited, to make healthy choices and to make them realistic when shopping in a marketplace.”
There are 315 families participating in the program in Wood County. Participating locations are Ward’s Farm Market on Seventh Street and Save-A-Lot on Broadway Avenue.
The program aims to get children and their families thinking about eating products regularly and helps them to be able to make these choices for themselves.
“Often, children eat what their parents eat”, said Hugh. “It gives them the ability to choose their own (fruits and vegetables) and gives them the chance to try something they might not have tried otherwise.
“It also gives them purchasing power.”
The program not only helps feed families, but also educates families on the benefits of fruits and vegetables. The program also includes recipe cards and cooking demonstrations for the recipes.
Retail stores will choose the types of produce they make available, but Hughes said it will be many typical types, including tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, zucchini, apples, broccoli, plums and more.
“The store people have been really helpful and take a lot of it on themselves,” said Hugh.
Nationally, West Virginia currently has the third highest childhood obesity rate.
The program was a pilot program last year. During the school year, he offered a number of pop-up farmers’ markets at area schools. During the summer it’s not there to interact with the kids that way.
“We wanted to fill the void in the summer months and get them to keep trying new things,” said Hugh. “It was open to everyone because there was no income requirement.
“The idea of healthy eating, we have to instill it in everyone.”
Brett Dunlap can be reached at [email protected]