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Healthy eating focus grows at Culpeper Downtown Farmers Market

Offering a cornucopia of fresh fruits and veggies, Culpeper Downtown Farmers Market continues to feature homegrown healthy eating with a focus on youth.

The market’s Healthy Local Food Initiative, Youth Nutrition Education and Fresh Farm Dollars for Kids Program are in full swing again this season.

Northern Piedmont Community Foundation is providing funding to assist with sustained promotion of the health benefits in the community of locally produced agricultural products. This includes nutrition cooking demos for kids at the market that runs 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays May through October in the parking lot at Culpeper Baptist Church.

Virginia Cooperative Extension Family Nutrition Program for Youth, Culpeper Department of Human Services and market organizers at Culpeper Renaissance, Inc. partnered on return of the nutritional programming, “I’m SOW Healthy.”

Georgette Mosley, Senior Program Assistant with the Family Nutrition Program, will head it up on-site, featuring Fresh Farm Dollars at the information booth for children to use at the market, nutrition education, farm product recipes, an interactive scavenger hunt and demos on how-to fix a healthy seasonal snack.

“This grant has provided a fun and interactive way for the market to make these quality fresh and local items more readily available to local families,” said Culpeper Downtown Farmers Market Chairman Evan Boone.

The upcoming schedule for, “I’m SOW Healthy,” the second Saturday of each month is: June 11—Creatively Delicious Bugs; July 9— Fruit Kabobs & Yogurt Dip; Aug. 13— Peach and Tomato Salad; Sept. 10—Apple Coleslaw and Oct. 8—Fruit and Yogurt “Boo” Cups.

An estimated 7,586 youth age 14-19 reside in Culpeper, Madison and Orange counties.

Of those, an estimated 36% are overweight or obese, 29% have used tobacco or vapor products and 58% do not meet recommendations for physical activity, according to a Community Health Needs Assessment released in September 2020 by Community Health Solutions.

In Virginia, 14.9% of youth ages 10 to 17 have obesity, giving Virginia a ranking of 31 among the 50 states and D.C., according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In another area promoting local healthy eating, food stamp recipients will be able to double their money when they purchase tokens at the farmer’s market, up to 25 bonus tokens per visit. Residents who swipe their EBT card for $12 in market tokens will receive $24 in tokens to use at the market, thanks to fundraising efforts from the CRI Board.

An estimated 81,760 adults age 18+ reside in the study region analyzed in the 2020 Community Health Needs Assessment for Culpeper, Orange and Madison.

Of those, 64% are overweight or obese, the study found, compared to 40 percent nationwide, according to the CDC.

In addition, 26% of local adults do not meet recommendations for physical activity, the 2020 study reported. Finally, 83% consume less than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, the study found.

Culpeper Human Services Manager Dorenda Pullen said the agency welcomes continuation of the matching food stamps program at the farmers market. The partnership has been a great opportunity for SNAP recipients to stretch their food dollars, she said.

The initiatives promote CRI’s goals by providing a friendly market environment and bringing local growers and residents together to enjoy quality products in a great downtown setting, said Board President Tish Smyth.

“Youth education and shopping empowerment along with SNAP expansion at the market will greatly benefit the families of Culpeper in providing these healthy local products,” she said.

See culpeperdowntown.com/farmers-market.html, Culpeper Farmers Market on Facebook or call 540/825-4416.

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