Low-income families eat healthier through better access to local produce and nutrition education
posted on June 29, 2012 11:03am
517-432-1555, ext. 141
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Low-income families who receive federal food assistance will find it easier to purchase healthy foods. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is now being used as a payment option to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Michigan State University Extension (MSU Extension) helps those eligible for food assistance learn how to use that fresh produce to eat healthier and to stretch their food dollars through its SNAP-Ed program.
SNAP benefits or electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards are allowing those receiving food assistance the chance to buy fresh produce at local farmers’ markets.
TheEaton Rapids Medical Center (ERMC) Farmers’ Market will be one market accepting these SNAP benefits. Hosted by the Eaton Rapids Building Healthy Communities Coalition, the ERMC Farmers’ Market had a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 27.
MSU Extension supports this initiative as part of the Eaton Rapids Building Healthy Communities Coalition, along with the Barry-Eaton District Health Department and other organizations. The coalition is developing and coordinating the new activities for the market to continue to enhance the health of the community. After applying and being approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, the market hopes to accept purchases with EBTs no later than early July.
To promote SNAP, MSU Extension has created many educational outreach programs.
“You can teach healthy eating, but people don’t automatically know what to do,” said MSU Extension educator Becky Henne. “People don’t necessarily know how to handle produce, so we have chefs come in to give demonstrations on how to prepare certain foods. We incorporate the produce that people buy into the demonstrations.”
The first cooking demonstration was provided by Chef Denene Vincent from Le Chat Gourmet Culinary Arts of Eaton Rapids June 27. MSU Extension provided nutrition education to inform customers of the benefits of healthy eating in conjunction with the cooking demonstration. Future demonstrations will be provided by other local chefs July 25, August 29 and September 26.
The ERMC Farmers’ Market also accepts Project FRESH and Senior Project FRESH coupons, which will increase access to fresh produce to those who need it most. Offered through MSU Extension, these programs help coupon recipients choose locally grown produce, prepare fruits and vegetables in new ways, store and preserve fruits and vegetables, increase fruit and vegetable consumption, and find other resources available in their local communities.
The ERMC Farmers’ Market is open on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located in the parking lot of the Eaton Rapids Medical Center at 1500 South Main Street.