Healthy food fuels a successful partnership

The Muskegon Farmers Market Power of Produce Club and MSU Extension’s Michigan Fresh Campaign joined forces for nutrition education.

Brandi Stein, conducting Michigan Fresh nutrition education activities at the Muskegon Farmers Market
Brandi Stein, conducting Michigan Fresh nutrition education activities at the Muskegon Farmers Market

The Muskegon Farmers Market is one of the largest markets in west Michigan. With over 75 vendors and a brand new market shed and commercial kitchen, the Muskegon Market has become a thriving community center. The market also provides regular access to affordable, healthy foods, which contributes toward the county’s goal of becoming the healthiest county in the state by the year 2021 – the 1 in 21 campaign. For these reasons, it was a perfect fit for Michigan State University Extension’s Michigan Fresh campaign.

Renae Hesselink, Power of Produce Program Manager at Muskegon Market, agreed to partner with Michigan State University Extension to host nutrition education activities focused on seasonal fruits and vegetables during Saturday markets from June – August. The Power of Produce program provided space and food supplies and MSU Extension provided a summer intern to staff the activities, lesson plans and Michigan Fresh campaign materials. Four hundred and fifty (450) adults and youth participated in these nutrition activities on seven Saturdays. Funding for this partnership was provided by a grant to the Power of Produce program from the Women’s Division of the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce.

“It was very exciting for our program, as well as the kids and parents, to be able to participate in more hands-on activities this year that included food preparation, recipes, and tasting new foods. Brandi (the MSU summer intern) made the Michigan Fresh recipes from produce that the farmers offer at the market and prepared them in Kitchen 242. This allowed us to showcase Kitchen 242 as the new commercial kitchen at the Muskegon Farmers Market. Brandi did an excellent job. As an incoming senior at MSU majoring in dietetics, we were very lucky to have her. We could not have enhanced our programing without the help of MSUE,” said Hesselink.

MSU Extension hopes to be able to continue this partnership next year. If you are interested in hosting Michigan Fresh activities in your farmers market, contact your local Extension office through our toll free number at 1-888-678-3464.

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