Our Healthy Foods, Healthy Families program empowers low-income Rhode Island families with the tools to shop for and cook affordable fresh foods through a series of hands-on activities, offered in English and Spanish, at the farmers market. Parents come with their children to the market where the Healthy Foods, Healthy Families staff offers free samples, games, recipes, financial incentives, and giveaways.
From July 8 to October 31, the Healthy Foods, Healthy Families program will be offered in English and Spanish to low-income families every week at these markets. Every WIC and SNAP client is welcome to participate and can sign up the same day right at the market:
- Armory Park (Providence's westside)
- Broad St. (Providence's southside)
- Neutaconkanut Park (Providence's westside)
- Newport at MLK Center
- West Warwick
This season is made possible with generous support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, the van Beuren Charitable Foundation and the Fresh Sound Foundation.
Questions? E-mail Mikayla.
How It Works: A Curriculum for Eating Fresh
The Healthy Foods, Healthy Families program, now in its 5th year, offers a curriculum of nutrition education through fun, interactive activities for both parent and child. The curriculum also includes cooking demonstrations featuring healthy recipes. Low-income families, identified through their participation in WIC (Women, Infant, and Children) or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), sign up for the program and are then able to participate in the weekly farmers market activity any time they are able to visit. For each week they complete, families receive a new item to help them use more fruits and veggies:
- Week 1: Children's Book: The Best Me/El Mejor Yo
- Week 2: Reusable canvas shopping bag
- Week 3: $20 in Fresh Bucks for fresh fruits & veggies through The Fresh for All Fund
- Each following 3rd week attended: Additional $20 for fresh fruits & veggies (limited to $120 per family per season)
Educational cooking demos by Johnson & Wales and RI Dept. of Health's Veggin' Out and URI's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Outreach are already organized each season at many farmers' markets. Our Healthy Foods, Healthy Families complements those demos by helping families on a budget to make the most of the markets and their nutritious bounty of foods.
Paired with other programs like our Bonus Bucks SNAP nutrition incentives, Healthy Foods Healthy Families is a key component of Farm Fresh RI's suite of services, bringing fresh foods within reach for every Rhode Island family. This program improves the health of Rhode Island's low-income families by:
- Increasing knowledge of nutrition and encouraging healthy relationships with food for parents and their children
- Offering parents and caregivers the tools necessary to make healthier choices while shopping for food
- Raising awareness of Farmers' Markets in these communities as a place to purchase affordable, high quality fruits and vegetables.
- Celebrating diverse food traditions as a means of fostering community among program participants
- Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption
Since its inception in 2004, Farm Fresh Rhode Island has worked to achieve these four goals by managing farmers' markets in low-income and/or food insecure areas, accepting Food Stamp / SNAP benefits and WIC Farmers' Market coupons at these markets, and partnering with state agencies and area universities to offer healthy cooking demonstrations at the markets.
EvaluationTo analyze whether the Healthy Foods, Healthy Families program had an effect on food literacy, we ask our parents to fill out these Pre and Post Surveys:
- Over 400 low-income families enrolled in the free multi-week workshops about local, nutritious food options at 7 neighborhood farmers markets from July to October. Enrollment was capped due to limited funding.
- Families hailed from 20 different towns & cities: Central Falls, Chepatchet, Coventry, Cranston, Cumberland, Exeter, Johnston, Lincoln, Manville, Newport, North Kingstown, North Smithfield, Pascoag, Pawtucket, Providence, Seekonk, Warwick, West Greenwich, West Warwick, Woonsocket
- 31% of enrolled families visited the farmers market 9+ times in 5 months and received over $60 each to shop at the farmers market. A total of $14,880 in Bonus Bucks to buy fresh, local fruit and vegetables were given out.
- 80% of families significantly increased how many fruits and vegetables they consumed at home during the program.
- 286 low-income families enrolled in the free multi-week workshops about local, nutritious food options at 5 neighborhood farmers markets from July to October.
- Families hailed from: Providence, Pawtucket, Cranston, Central Falls, Cumberland, Lincoln, Johnston, Burrillville, North Smithfield and Woonsocket
- 27% of enrolled families visited the farmers market 9+ times in 4 months and received over $75 each to shop at the farmers market. A total of $9,150 in Bonus Bucks to buy fresh, local fruit and vegetables were given out.
- 87% of families significantly increased how many fruits and vegetables they consumed at home during the program.