By Becky Marvel, NEP Community Wellness Coordinator
In Fayette County, the poverty level is at 23%, the obesity rate is 39% and food insecurity for children is 28%. The data clearly points to a need for low-income residents to have access to fresh produce. Research uncovered that since the county didn’t have a Farmers’ Market they were missing out on thousands of dollars from a federally funded Senior/WIC Farmers’ Market Fresh Produce voucher program.
These partners – Area 9, Senior Center, Fountain Place Apartments, Certified Food Producers, WIC, and the Purdue Nutrition Education Program – worked together to establish the Fayette County Farmers’ Market. Once formed, the committee then proceeded to work on getting the Farmers’ Market and three produce vendors and one farm stand to be certified to accept fresh produce vouchers. They expanded the reach to help Senior/WIC participants redeem their vouchers by having the certified vendors take their produce directly to the low-income apartment complexes!
The results are great – the Senior/WIC Fresh Produce voucher program brought back $2,810 to the community with the creation of the Fayette County Farmers’ Market. Taking the Farmers’ Market directly to the participants resulted in a 76% redemption rate, one of the highest in the state. It was such a success that they are now looking for more grant money to purchase more vouchers!