Through the Husky Nutrition Programs’ Farmers' Market Education initiative, Registered Dietitians and UConn students promote the value of fresh produce. This is done by providing farmers market information and free nutrition education to Connecticut residents.
Many farmers' markets in Connecticut accept and even double SNAP/EBT benefits. Markets are a valuable source of affordable, healthy fruits and vegetables for SNAP recipients. Husky Nutrition Programs promote Connecticut farmers' markets through an online, interactive farmers market map. A video detailing how easy it is to use SNAP benefits at markets is also highlighted. The video and other social media outlets are used to feature farmers markets that double or triple SNAP benefits.
On a weekly basis, Husky Nutrition Programs’ Dietitians and nutrition educators team up with UConn students in the Husky Scholars program. They offer education and produce-based recipes at farmers markets in cities with the highest SNAP-Eligible populations.
"I love coming, because they offer a lot of fresh foods that are quality and good price. Also, there's a great variety." - Daijah
Educators interact with shoppers using display boards and activities in order to teach about
- food safety
- calcium and healthy snacks
- family mealtime
- selecting healthy produce
At some locations, food demonstrations are also used to engage participants. In addition, shoppers are offered healthy, budget-friendly recipes (in English and Spanish). They are also offered healthy incentive items such as shopping totes, fruit and vegetable brushes, and more. All items have the www.SNAP4CT.org website noted so that they can remember how to access nutrition resources online.
Throughout the FY 2017 farmers' market season, Husky Nutrition Programs was able to reach 1,102 Connecticut residents with direct education at 6 farmers markets. In FY 2017 the online farmers market map was accessed via 4,566 desktop pageviews and 455 mobile pageviews.
During the 2017 National Farmers' Market Week, farmers market participants were interviewed and shared the following:
This farmers' market is important, because as a North End resident myself too, we all live in a fresh food desert. So it’s great when people can come here once a week and get fresh, non-processed, non-salted, non-sugared-up foods. I do all of this for the community.- Shana Smith, North End Farmers' Market Manager
I love the price and being able to get my money’s worth. I love getting delicious fresh fruits and vegetables that are locally grown. I really like being able to support all of the local farmers.“ Maxine
"I love it, I love everything! The food, the atmosphere. I try to come every week." - Babia, Hartford Resident
The program was evaluated through a survey at one of the farmers' markets and showed:
- 79.5% would use SNAP, WIC, double value or other dollar value coupons at market
- 96.5% learned something useful at the nutrition education table, specifically:
- 82.7% learned useful produce preparation ideas and,
- 65.5% intended to make the recipe [that was featured]
- 58.6% reported that they will buy 3 or more types of vegetables at the market
- 51.7% reported that they will buy 3 or more different types of fruit at the market on the day surveyed
- 72.4% reported that they usually eat 2 or more vegetables often or always at their main meal daily