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Kids Clubs Farmers Market
June 5 - June 7
KIDS GET FREE TOKENS TO BUY PRODUCE AT FARMERS MARKETS
Program encourages youngsters to eat healthy
Two Central Louisiana farmers markets are launching Kids Clubs incentive programs that allow young people to buy $10 worth of fresh produce each time they visit.
The farmers market in Olla and a mobile farmers market in Natchitoches will start Kids Clubs on Tuesday, June 6. Kids Clubs provide young people with $10 worth of wooden tokens they can use to purchase fruits and vegetables. There is no cost to participate.
The program is designed to put more healthy food on the plates of Central Louisiana residents and boost the economy by giving farmers an opportunity to sell their produce locally, said Allison Tohme, Farmers Market Program Developer for the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.
“This is a great way to get families to farmers markets and to introduce kids to a variety of fruits and vegetables,” Tohme said. “Kids Clubs give young people a chance to taste healthy produce that is grown close to home. At the same time, providing the tokens means farmers market customers have more money to spend, so we’re helping our local farmers and farmers markets thrive.” Jim Clinton, CLEDA’s President and CEO, added “Helping markets thrive is one step along the way to strengthening the local food economy in Central Louisiana.”
The Olla and Natchitoches mobile farmers market Kids Clubs are funded under a two-year Healthy Behaviors Program Grant to CLEDA from The Rapides Foundation. Healthy Behaviors Program Grants fund projects that have a focus on healthy eating, active living, or prevention of tobacco use, substance or alcohol abuse.
The Olla Town Square Market is open at 4 p.m. Tuesdays at the Farmers Market and Courtyard in Downtown Olla. Kids Club is open to ages 2-17.
The Natchitoches Mobile Market operates twice a week. On Tuesdays it is open from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Pearson-Mallet Park, 701 East Fifth St. On Thursdays it is open from 3:30-5:50 p.m. at Ben Johnson Park, 1616 MLK Jr. Drive. Kids Club in Natchitoches is for ages 2-13.
Kids Club participation is limited to the first 100 kids at each farmers market, so participants are urged to sign up as soon as possible.
Kids Club was originally tested in Natchitoches and Leesville in 2015 with funding from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. Currently, Amerigroup Corporation sponsors the program at the Alexandria Farmers Market on Tuesdays, and private donors make it available at the Natchitoches Farmers Market on Saturdays. Funding from the Healthy Behaviors Program Grant allows the Natchitoches program to expand to its mobile markets.
“Kids Club is great at our Saturday market, and we are thrilled to bring it into other neighborhoods through our Mobile Market,” Natchitoches’ Market Coordinator Valerie
Balthazar said. “We will reach families who might not usually buy fresh produce. Kids Club can change that.”
The Kids Club programs are part of the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative, a community effort that aims to strengthen Central Louisiana’s local foods economy while increasing access to fresh foods for all residents of the region. The initiative was created in 2012 with a Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana Grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and matching funding from The Rapides Foundation. Administered by CLEDA, the Initiative is supported by funding from The Rapides Foundation as well as a philanthropic investment from Keller Enterprises, LLC.
The Local Foods Initiative offers a variety of opportunities and events for residents to become involved in the local foods movement. This includes Foodapalooza, the Central Louisiana Farm-to-School Taskforce and the Central Louisiana Farmers Market Development Taskforce. For other opportunities and for more information about the local foods movement, visit freshcentral.org. For more information about Kids Clubs, contact Tohme at 318-441-3423.
The Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA) is an organization which consists of the economic development entities from the parishes (counties) of Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn. The mission of the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance is to help people prosper in vibrant, thriving communities.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is building a healthier Louisiana through community outreach and charitable giving. In addition to the Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana, the Foundation has two signature programs: The Angel Award®, an annual recognition of outstanding Louisiana volunteers who improve the quality of life for at-risk children, and Smart Bodies®, a school-based program to prevent childhood obesity. Blue Cross also contributes nearly $2 million annually to various nonprofit organizations throughout the state that contribute to health, education and the overall quality of life in Louisiana communities. The Foundation is funded solely through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.
The Rapides Foundation is a philanthropic organization that develops initiatives and provides grants to organizations that share the Foundation’s mission to improve the health status of Central Louisiana. The Foundation’s service area consists of Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn parishes.