Project FRESH: Nutrition education at farmers markets

Bringing families and farmers markets together creates opportunities for nutrition.

Across bay, Midland, Genesee, Shiawassee and Saginaw counties, Michigan State University Extension staff is delivering nutrition messages and education to families that receive food assistance benefits through the Farmers Market Nutrition Program which is known in Michigan as Project FRESH. This program provides healthy and nutritious produce to Michigan WIC clients while creating an economic benefit for Michigan farmers. The program gives families with children under age five a booklet of coupons worth $25 that they can use to buy fresh, unprepared, Michigan-grown fruit and vegetables at area farmers markets and participating farm stands. Working in partnership with local WIC agencies, MSUE's Community Nutrition instructors are providing short nutrition lessons, recipes, and more to the WIC clients. 

On July 30, 2019, at the Flint Farmers' Market MSU Extension staff from Genesee County interacted with 293 families during Project FRESH distribution at a community fair along with representatives of other local agencies. Staff demonstrated recipes and offered recipe tasting, shared information about nutrition education classes, social and emotional health, food safety and preservation, gardening, early childhood development, and 4-H programs including animal science and water quality science. Families were offered the opportunity to take materials and learn about what Michigan State University Extension has to offer families. Thank you to the staff at the July 30 event; Lynette kaiser, Liz Josaitis, Sam Farah, Erin Powell, Sean Knurek, Lisa Trieber, Darren Bagley, Heidi Locke, Anna O'Rourke-Bean and Julie Darnton for helping to connect with these families. 

In Saginaw County, Staff members Maggie Dougherty, Sheila Salo and summer intern Phoebe Tuyishime have delivered nutrition education at the Hemlock Farmers' Market and at the Downtown Saginaw Farmers' Market in both July and August. At these markets, staff is sharing recipes created by a statewide program called Michigan Fresh. Michigan Fresh resources are designed to help people find tips on growing, handling, and preserving the bounty of fresh produce found at Michigan farmers markets in season. 

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