Kids' produce program promotes healthy habits

Krystle Wagner • Jul 2, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Blayne Graftema jumped with excitement as she received two tokens on Wednesday morning at the Grand Haven Farmers Market.

After looking over produce, the 3-year-old decided to buy raspberries with the tokens that are used as cash through the Power of Produce Kids Club.

Throughout the summer, almost 200 children are learning more about fresh produce through the program.

Each time children enrolled in the program visit a local farmers market — in Grand Haven on Wednesdays and Saturdays, or Spring Lake on Thursdays — they receive a stamp on their “Passport to Health” and two $1 “P.O.P. Kids Club” tokens, which can be used on fruit, vegetables or other plants.

The program is for ages 3-14.

“It’s so cool,” Graftema said.

Maggie McKinney, a farmers market intern for the local Chamber of Commerce, said the program provides kids with the opportunity to pick out what foods they want and it teaches them responsibility. She said it also helps parents make healthy choices.

During the visit to the farmers market, children are also challenged with finding the Garden Hero. McKinney hides a toy vegetable or fruit for children to find. This week, children searched for Pedro Potato.

Once they find the Garden Hero, children receive a sticker and page to color that also has a recipe.

Crystal O’Toole, 5, visited the Grand Haven Farmers Market on Wednesday with her mother, Kelly O’Toole, and grandmother, Kaye Smith. Crystal set her sights on buying strawberries.

Smith said she thinks the program is a “wonderful” way to teach children and help families.

Although Abbie Diemer and her siblings, Joshua and Erika, attend the farmers market every week with their family’s business, Diemer’s Farm & Greenhouse, 8-year-old Abbie said the produce program gives her a chance to see what other farmers have to offer. Abbie said she’s saving her tokens for later in the season when she has more buying power.

Other children involved in the program have combined their tokens with their siblings and purchased enough food to make a meal for their family, McKinney said.

When the program wraps up in a few months, McKinney said she hopes children remember their excitement of visiting the farmers market, and she hopes parents stay with the message throughout the year.

“I’m hopeful they’ll want to continue having fresh produce and meals,” she said.

The Grand Haven program is sponsored by Health Zone Chiropractic; the Spring Lake program is sponsored by Weiss Chiropractic.

The Grand Haven Farmers Market runs Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Chinook Pier, under the green canopy. The Spring Lake Farm & Garden Market takes place Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Harvest Bible Chapel parking lot.

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