Bringing fresh fruits and veggies to our children

A message from one of our grateful recipients – Power of Produce Club

Board Member Brandon Thiemann, wife Jillian and their son Theo with Foundation Director Cary Linder at the first Hutchinson Farmers Market for the 2017 season

Earlier this spring, the Foundation had the recent opportunity to present the Power of Produce (PoP) Club at the Hutchinson Farmers Market with $2,000 in funds to help the program reach additional children in our area. 

The PoP Club, first introduced into the Hutchinson area in 2016, has seen tremendous success in its early years. Designed to help educate and excite our youth about the importance of incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into their diet, it is targeted at children ages 3-12. Each week, children receive $2 in the form of a wooden token to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables and produce producing plants. The PoP Club engages children at the Farmers Market and empowers them to make healthful food choices. Farmers markets across the nation have implemented the program and documented the program’s positive impact on the fruit and vegetable consumption of children, as well as an increase in families attending the Farmers Market.

Karen M. Gensmer, registered nutritionist at Hutchinson Health and Chair of the Heart of Hutch Eat Smart Committee, shared how the additional funding from the Foundation for the PoP Club will have a positive impact on those within our community.

“The Heart of Hutch Eat Smart Committee was very happy when discovering that our application for a grant for the Power of Produce program had been awarded.  This is the second year of the program, and it had to end earlier than desired last summer because funding had been depleted.  This award has assured us of a financially viable program this year; the length of which has actually been extended due to the availability of additional funds.

The Power of Produce program provides a multi-faceted benefit to our community.  Of course, its primary purpose is to introduce and encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables by not only the children participating in the program, but also by the families that are bringing them to the market.  Last year’s program noted the presence of many more families at the market.  It is the hope that whatever is purchased with the Power of Produce tokens will be shared with the entire family.  The program is bringing people to the market for the first time and this population is also purchasing fruits and vegetables to be consumed by the family. 

The program is also directly benefiting the local agricultural community with the dollars spent by the children going directly to the farmer vendors.  This benefit will help to insure the continuance of the Farmers Market and hopefully build a healthier community with an increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables.”

Andrew Doherty, SNAP-Ed Educator & Registered Dietitian Nutritionist further reiterated:

“The funding from the Foundation helps the community by supporting a program that draws families together to the Farmers Market. When families are at the market they have the opportunity to connect with the local farmers that grew the food. In addition, the funding helps to empower kids to make healthful choices with their tokens, which hopefully creates a conversation about food with the families.”

When discussing why it is important to keep health care local in our community, and how programs like the PoP club support that, Gensmer added:

“As the old adage notes:  “It takes a village to raise a child.” We as a community must be aware of how to care for our children today who will be the citizens responsible for maintaining the foundation of our community tomorrow.  Health care is a necessary part of a community that is interested in making certain that the foundation is solid and not crumbling.  Health care not only involves care of the acutely ill, but also the prevention of chronic disease in our population and the building of a healthy population that hopefully will not need to utilize the services of immediate medical attention.  We need to realize that there is a definite shift in health care from treatment to prevention and we need that shift to maintain and build a strong community, not only for ourselves but also for future generations.”

If you are interested in learning how to apply for a Foundation grant, email or call Rachael Gemuenden at rgemuenden@hutchhealth.com or 320.484.4438.


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