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Area farmers markets offer kids programs, education stations and accept food assistance programs

• Jun 13, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Summer is here, and so are the farmers markets.

The Grand Haven Farmers Market is now open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m under the green canopy at Chinook Pier. Additionally, the Spring Lake Farm and Garden Market is open Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Harvest Bible Chapel’s parking lot.

There are many exciting opportunities at the markets this season, including programs for kids.

Each market will feature one of the Garden Heroes, a fruit or vegetable character that kids will have to search for in the market. In June, be on the lookout for an Asparagus, Strawberry and Spinach.

Additionally, the P.O.P. Kids Club will be active at both markets, thanks to sponsors Health Zone Chiropractic and Weiss Chiropractic Wellness. This program encourages kids, ages 3-13, to sign up for a Passport to Health and receive tokens to spend on a fruit or vegetable each time they visit the market. Visit the market information booth June 15-16 to learn more.

This season also has a line-up of education stations in partnership with the North Ottawa Community Health System. The first station is Wednesday, June 15, in Grand Haven; and Thursday, June 16, in Spring Lake. The program will focus on a “Healthier Summer Cookout.” Summer grill-outs include the typical go-to items such as hamburgers or hotdogs. NOCHS will teach you how to make healthier side options for all your summer gatherings.

The markets also accept several food assistance programs, including S.N.A.P., Double Up Food Bucks, Project Fresh, Senior Market Fresh and Prescription for Health. S.N.A.P. is a Bridge Card program that allows participants to use some of their card money to buy fresh and healthful foods from farmers markets. Double Up Food Bucks is a S.N.A.P. incentive program in which participants use their card to purchase tokens, and Double Up Food Bucks will match the money spent up to $20. Customers can receive twice the amount of tokens to purchase healthy foods.

Project Fresh is a state program in which WIC clients receive coupons to spend on healthy foods at farmers markets, while Senior Market Fresh is similar but for qualifying senior citizens. Prescription for Health is a new program through the Ottawa County Department of Public Health, North Ottawa Community Health System and the Tri-Cities Family YMCA, in which a doctor will prescribe a patient fresh food and they will be given credit to pay for food at the market.

Learn more about the eligibility requirements for these programs at the market information table.

For more information on either market or the latest events, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ghsl.farmersmarkets.

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