Bridgeport Farmers Market Launches POP Club for Kids

By Julie Perine on June 04, 2015 via

If your kids could bank free credits at the farmers market, would they purchase a steady stream of fresh, sweet berries or save up and buy something with lasting effect - like a tree? Thanks to a new program sponsored by Bridgeport Farmers Market, you can find out. Whichever method the children choose, it will be a healthy one. 
For the first three regular season markets of 2015, BFM has been signing kids up for POP - the Power of Produce club. To date, about 90 kids ages 5-12 have shown interest. This Sunday, June 7, POP members can start collecting and redeeming their tokens. 
BFM Board Member and POP Chair Athena Freedlander explains the club’s concept. 
“When kids sign up, they get a health passport, which they can get stamped every time they come to the market,” she said. “Each time they come to the market, they get $2 in tokens that they can spend that day or save over the entire season.” 
The tokens must be spent on fresh fruit or vegetables, thus adding another positive element to the situation. 
“We all know how finicky kids can be when it comes to eating,” Freelander said. 
POP also features various weekly interactive activities - everything from the two-bite challenge, which introduces the kids to brand new healthy choices - to crafts and special presentations by vendors and chefs. Ideas already brewing include the painting of produce, a presentation on fresh eggs and some unique face painting. 
Freelander said she, BFM President Debbie Workman and others affiliated with the market have been working on a potential kids’ program for about a year. The idea of POP came about through information obtained through the Farmers Market Coalition.  A similar club in Oregon City grabbed the interest of some 500 young participants. 
Freelander said she realizes the local club will not operate on such a large scale, but it might just place North Central West Virginia on the map for promoting a good health initiative. 
“West Virginia is constantly battling these ‘worse’ lists when it comes to health and nutrition,” she said. “This could put us on the map for coming up with a good concept which could possibly be utilized statewide.”
According to the “Try This” Web site, one in four Kindergarten students are obese. According to data collected from various POP clubs, 72 percent of participating children tried a brand new food through the program. Exposing children to new healthy foods could prove to be a major milestone in turning negative statistics into positive ones. 
“I think empowering the kids with purchasing power is key,” Freelander said. 
The positive effects spill over into market success as new families are brought to BFM. Sign up for POP at the BFM tent this Sunday or any Sunday. The club is intended for kids age 5-12, but kids outside that target area can participate. The market is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays at Charles Pointe. 
Visit the Bridgeport Farmers Market Web site HERE. BFM is also on Facebook and Twitter - @BridgeportFM.

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