Since the Chronic Disease Prevention (CDP) Workgroup's Farmers Market Food Voucher program was initiated in 2019, it has inspired a variety of other Food Security initiatives that HEALTHIER TOGETHER is proud to promote and support. The program, which is now in its 3rd year, served an additional 500 families in 2021 by providing $10 vouchers that could be redeemed for fresh produce. This program is focused on a goal to provide healthy food to families through the two brick and mortar Farmers Market store locations in Belleville and the Old Town Farmers Market in Downtown Belleville every Saturday morning from Spring to Fall. These locations are within walking distance for most members of the target area, giving them access to fresh and nutritious foods. In 2021, the CDP workgroup members received even more strategic support from the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension and Belleville YMCA staff and volunteers. Beyond making vouchers available to individuals at select drop-off locations, they worked with the staff from the Belleville Farmers Market to shop, package and distribute fresh produce to additonal grade school students and/or family units.The program not only helped to enhance partnerships with the Farmers Market stores and Old Town Farmers Market but also with the Belleville area schools, mobile food markets, and the Down Town Belleville YMCA. The program was implemented August 2021-October 2021 and had a 46% redemption rate. The Chronic Disease Work Group noted that they were happy for the opportunity given and thankful they could help promote and increase food access by implementing this program. Plans are underway to enhance and expand this initiative in 2022, through additional agreements with other fresh produce providers; and, an innovative mobile project that would provide community education, food preparation demonstrations and capacity building around food security.
Chronic Disease work group chair Katrina Galati with Franklin School's daytime custodian BJ Podhrasky
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