This week marks the 17th annual National Farmers Market Week and there is much to celebrate. Success stories demonstrating the ways that communities benefit when farmers’ markets and the Summer Nutrition Programs come together are cropping up across the country.
According to FRAC’s Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation report, only 1 in 6 low-income children who needed summer nutrition received it in 2015. Farmers markets offer an exciting and effective way to broaden the reach of summer nutrition programs. Together, summer meals and farmers markets are a win-win-win for children, farmers, and the community.
The farmers’ market in Webb City, Missouri, for example, incorporates fresh fruits and vegetables donated by farmers into every reimbursable meal served to children onsite during the summer. Live music and cooking classes led by the University of Missouri Extension draw in more families to further increase program participation and overall foot traffic to the market. In addition, the market matches SNAP purchases with up to $25 in tokens to purchase fruits and vegetables.
Serving summer meals not only helps increase children’s access to fresh foods, it also helps make Webb City Farmers Market more financially viable. Since starting the program, sales at the market have increased by 50 percent.
Other meal sites—such as parks, schools, and Ys– also can take advantage of summer’s peak growing season. For instance, sites can procure healthy, local foods from farmers’ markets to incorporate in every summer meal served.
And now that the school year is almost upon us, farmers’ markets can consider continuing to provide meals on weekends and after school through the Afterschool Meal Program to amplify their educational or enrichment activities.
To take the guesswork out of how to develop an afterschool and summer farm to school initiative, this week, FRAC released its Fresh From the Farm: Using Local Foods in the Afterschool and Summer Nutrition Programs guide. It offers strategies and resources to enroll in the child nutrition programs; determine farm to school program structure; connect with local food sources; and more.