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Conference Name Connecting Farmers to Children, Families and the Community

Brandy Brabham

Summary

West Virginia ranks 4th in the nation in the number of adults that eat less than 1 fruit or vegetable daily. Children develop food preferences by observing parents and other adult role models consume healthy foods. Children in West Virginia are at a disadvantage for developing preferences for fruits and vegetables since most adults do not consume the recommended amounts and access is often limited in our rural communities. The Kid’s Farmers Market program was developed to help increase access to and consumption of locally grown produce by low-income children and families. Utilizing grant funding and existing Extension infrastructure, this project subsidized the cost of produce purchased with ”kids coupons” and CSA boxes for childcare facilities and families, which allowed local farmers a no-risk opportunity to test alternative market strategies targeted at limited income and rural children and families. From June-November of 2017, over 5,400 children and 200 families participated in 58 kid’s farmer’s markets across 30 counties and CSA programs in 8 childcare facilities in 3 counties. Around $30,000 in revenue was generated and split between the 40 farmers who participated in the project. In addition to funding from “kids coupons” and CSA boxes, farmers reported an additional $3,500 in revenue from cash/WIC/Senior vouchers at markets. Nutrition education, food-samplings, and kid-friendly recipes were also provided to all participants. Preliminary data from parent evaluations sent home with participating children showed that 92% of participants consumed the produce taken home and 78% of parents reported that their child was more excited about eating fresh produce. Additional data on farmer’s perspectives related to both facilitators and barriers to participation are being collected to inform further program development and strategies for sustainability.

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