Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Parents from Three Partner Schools Participate in Farmer’s Market Tours

Bronx Health REACH intern Elecia Faaiuaso (left) speaking with attendees of a farmers market tour.

This post was written by Bronx Health REACH intern Elecia Faaiuaso.

This fall, Bronx Health REACH gave parents of students from Bronx East Academy, Bronx Charter School of the Arts, and Hyde Leadership Charter School the chance to pick fresh fruits and vegetables without ever leaving the Bronx. Bronx Health REACH staff hosted three farmers’ market tours for 22 parents residing in District 8. Within minutes of arriving in the park, alive with fall foliage, parents saw the bountiful produce stands and lit up with excitement ready to dig in! Parents walked over to further investigate the inviting smells of honey crisp apples and bouquets of peppery arugula. The journey for better health had begun before the tour even started.

The farmers’ market tour included both nutrition information followed by time to shop in the market. Farmers’ market tours make fresh food more accessible and are a great way to provide instantaneous opportunities for healthy eating with new recipe ideas to cook nutritious meals for the participants’ families. Parents who participated received $10 worth of Health Bucks — $2 coupons used to purchase fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. Health Bucks were provided by Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr.’s office, who secured $22,000 worth of Health Bucks for his constituents in this year’s budget. Thank you Council Member Salamanca for supporting these efforts in your district!

Despite the cool, brisk air in the park, parents enthusiastically participated in a rich discussion about the benefits of farmers’ markets, the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available, and the affordable prices. Staff also noted the importance of maintaining a healthy, fiber-rich diet with fruits and vegetables.  “It keeps everything moving along thus cleaning your system!” exclaimed the staff member. At the end, parents were given informational material, including a My Plate Planner, a guide for harvest times for vegetables and fruits, a list of starchy versus non-starchy vegetables, and tips for getting children to eat more fruits and vegetables. After receiving the tips and materials, parents were eager to share their own personal experiences, cooking methods, and food storage advice. One parent shared a unique way to preserve “sofrito” made with fresh herbs — freezing it in ice cube trays. Staff ended the discussion session by thanking the parents for attending and saying how helpful it is to hear cooking tips and food shopping experiences from parents, as they hold the power in the kitchen and determine what the family eats.

After the discussion, parents were encouraged to speak to the farmers about the produce being sold and to try fruits or vegetables they may not have eaten before. With Health Bucks in hand and excitement on their faces, shopping for healthy produce commenced!  Walking through the tents, parents marveled at the affordable prices and were thrilled to be able to buy unfamiliar produce such as acorn squash and familiar items like Bosc pears. Many of the parents on the tour left the market with 3 to 4 bags of fruits and vegetables!

At the end of the tour, Bronx Health REACH had parents share their shopping experience at the farmers’ market. One parent expressed her appreciation for the local farmers and their commitment to “come to the city to provide us with fresh produce in [their] area”. They all agreed that the market was very clean, and the vendors were friendly and provided fresh, affordable produce. The parents would like to see Bronx Health REACH provide more tours so that others could “learn and enjoy” these farmers’ markets as much as they did. One parent commented that she would always pass by the farmers’ market while riding the bus, and even though she wanted to stop and check it out, she never had the money to do so. She pointed out that the Health Bucks helped make it easier for her to purchase fresh produce from the farmers’ market and eat healthy. Bronx Health REACH hopes to arrange additional farmers’ market tours for parents in the spring of 2018 when farmers’ markets reopen.

Visit the GrowNYC website to stay up-to-date on events and the farmers’ market schedule.

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