According to Second Harvest Heartland, one in nine people face hunger in Minnesota with one in six children facing hunger. People facing hunger in Minnesota report needing an estimated two million dollars more per year to be food secure.
Through the Power of Produce and Market Bucks programs, Windom Area Health and the University of Minnesota Extension are striving to decrease the number of people facing hunger and experiencing food insecurity within Cottonwood County while promoting healthy and fresh foods for all.
The Power of Produce Club is a familiar program to the Windom area. In fact, 2021 marks the fourth year of this program. The Power of Produce Club, known as POP, is a farmers market incentive program for children. Children receive a two dollar token to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables allowing them to learn about and try healthy locally grown foods.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in individuals experiencing food insecurity. According to Feeding America, in 2019 an estimated 460,000 Minnesotans were experiencing food insecurity. This number jumped to an estimated 630,000 in 2020.
To tackle the increasing issue, Windom Area Health and the University of Minnesota Extension decided to broaden the POP program. Previously, the POP program served children ages 4 to 12 and currently the program is offered to those ages 0 to 17. This prompted the addition of the Market Bucks Program, a farmers market incentive program for adults ages 18 and up. .
Both programs offer individuals a two-dollar token or buck to use at the Windom Farmers Market or Mountain Lake Farmers Market on fresh produce. Bucks and tokens are given away, for free, at various community events and at the farmers markets on select dates.
The goal of these changes was to reach a larger population of individuals and families that may be experiencing hunger and food insecurity. Understanding the needs of our communities allows us to work with local partners to create programs that fit the community needs as a whole.
All farmers market vendors have the choice of accepting tokens and bucks. If they choose to participate, they are reimbursed accordingly. The reimbursement of these programs is made possible through ongoing grant dollars. In the future, we hope to sustain the POP and Market Bucks Programs through local contributions and donations.
Our goal with the POP and Market Bucks Programs is to promote fresh and healthy foods to individuals of all ages while decreasing the number of individuals experiencing food insecurity and hunger, to increase traffic to our local farmers markets and support our local economy.
The POP Tokens and Market Bucks can be used at the Windom or Mountain Lake Farmers Markets any time throughout the 2021 farmers market season. For the opportunity to receive a free token or buck and participate in fun activities, visit the farmers markets on one of the event dates listed below.
- July 28th Mountain Lake 4 – 5 PM
- August 10th Windom 3:30 – 5:30 PM
- August 14th Windom 9:30 – 11:30 AM
- August 18th Mountain Lake 4 – 5 PM
- September 11th Windom 9:30 – 11:30 AM
- September 14th Windom 3:30 – 5 PM
- September 15th Mountain Lake 4 – 5 PM
- October 9th Windom 9:30 – 11:30 AM
Windom Farmers Market – located downtown on the Courthouse Square
Tuesdays: 3:30 – 6 PM
Saturdays: 7:30 – 12 PM
Mountain Lake Farmers Market – located at Mountain Lake City Park
Wednesdays: 4 – 6:30 PM
Saturdays: 8:30 – 12 PM
If you have questions or are interested in getting involved, please contact Anna at 507-831-0671 or [email protected].
By Anna Snyder, Community Health & Wellness Manager