With support from the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) grant, two Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency Head Start programs will be improving their culture around health, local food and classroom nutrition education in the upcoming months. The BHC program focuses on are incorporating nutrition education into their curriculum. They do this by offering hands-on taste tests and cooking lessons of vegetable and bean based recipes. By focusing on these topics, children and their families will be able to incorporate what they learn through Head Start at home. The grant also includes funding to offer children and their families a first-hand experience interacting with local farmers at the Sara Hardy Farmers Market in downtown Traverse City.
At the first June market of the year, Headstart families from Hannah and Chums Corners boarded the BATA bus, provided by a partnership between the BATA bus and the farmers market. and headed to the market. Shelly Sharron, Family Engagement Specialist, NMCAA Early Head Start/Head Start Grand Traverse County led a group discussion about the food access programs offered at the market like Double Up Food Bucks, Hoophouses for Health, WIC Project FRESH. Plus, Munson’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program in conjunction with the Michigan State Extension offered a tasting of an asparagus and quinoa salad recipe for the families.
Next, the families explored the market with new reusable tote bags in hand. They made “bean necklaces” with the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, which taught them the importance of heat, water, and light in the food growing process. Plus, everyone went home with the 2019 Taste the Local Difference Guide to Local Food. Families enjoyed their time at the farmers market and expressed an interest in coming back in the weeks to come. Several families returned to the market the following week to buy more fresh produce to take home.
With continued support from the Building Healthy Communities grant and Taste the Local Difference, the NMCAA Head Start programs are on their way to increasing knowledge of nutrition and health through the incorporation of local food.
Emily Lesky is the Taste the Local Difference Northern Michigan Community Health Intern. She is a Northern Michigan native born and raised in the beautiful Petoskey/Harbor Springs area. Emily graduated this past May from Michigan State University with a degree in nutritional science and a minor in health promotion. Contact her at [email protected]