— Joel Torkelson, Crow River Food Council Member
The Power of Produce (PoP) Kids Club originated in 2011 at the Oregon City Farmers’ Market with the goal to expose children to the local food system and give them purchasing power to make their own healthy food choices. The program has since expanded to have international presence, with PoP Kids Clubs “popping up” in Canada and all around the U.S. One of our council’s founding members – Kirsten Bansen Weigle had piloted a PoP Kids Club at the Maple Grove farmers market in 2014 and was a catalyst for us trying it in Wright County – thank you Kirsten for all your help and guidance!
Our PoP Kids Club’s allow for children ages 4 to 12 to receive $2 in market bucks each week they attend the market, once they have signed up (participation is free). Kids receive a nice reusable bag to carry their fruits and vegetables throughout the program at the farmers market. The tokens can be used each week or saved up for larger purchases.
With the support of the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), Wright County Area United Way, local businesses and local farmers markets, we are helping children to have buying power with locally grown goodness their reward. The PoP Kids Club was launched in Wright County (Delano and Monticello) last year, here is a quick overview of its success;
Monticello Farmers Market: 12 week program with 425 children registering. At the end of the program there was 1012 tokens redeemed! Top 3 items children bought: Sweet Corn, Apples and Cucumbers.
Delano Community Market: 6 week program with 71 children signing up. 185 tokens were redeemed during the PoP Kids Club at Delano.
Farmers markets, health officials, community organizations and businesses are investing time and resources across the state to support PoP Kids Club as was written in the Star Tribune last summer – Minnesota kids discover the power of produce with farmers market program. Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Health recently published a story about our local efforts – Monticello market ‘PoPs’ into healthy plan for kids.
Council members and community partners have been meeting this winter to plan for the summer of 2016 and we are excited to announce that we will continue the PoP Kids Club in 2016 at Monticello (every Thursday, July 14 – September 29) , while expanding to Albertville (every Thursday, June 16 – September 29)! Check out the Crow River Food Council’s website in the coming weeks and months for more information on the PoP Kids Clubs.