Members of the POP (Power of Produce) Club learn about turnip seeds at the Mason City Farmers Market.
Connecting kids to local foods at the farmers market
Kids know where to find the POP Club at the Mason City Farmers Market on Tuesdays. The booth has been a popular stop for families to connect with their local food systems and have a hands-on experience with healthy fresh fruits and vegetables.
A mainstay at POP Club is the 2-Bite Challenge: If a child takes two bites of a food found in the market, they earn a $2 voucher that can be spent at the farmers market. So far this season, kids have sampled rhubarb, snap peas and strawberries.
“The biggest reason that we have POP Club is to encourage children to start young having experiences with local, healthy food in a fun and supportive way to encourage lifelong healthy habits," said Lisa Packer, local food coordinator for Healthy Harvest of North Iowa.
RELATED: 2021 Double Up Food Bucks farmers markets
Healthy Harvest has helped coordinate POP Club in Mason City for the past three years. Thanks to support from a local sponsor, they've been able to hire an on-site coordinator for the program and expand it to the Clear Lake Farmers Market this season. Both Mason City and Clear Lake markets are Double Up Food Bucks participating sites.
In addition to the 2-Bite Challenge, POP Club also features a new weekly activity, such as identifying which fruits and vegetables come from which seeds. Plus, a different community resource is invited to the booth each week – from WIC to 4-H to the local landfill – to offer education to families.
Create a POP Club in your community!
POP (Power of Produce) Club is a program created by the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) and resources are available on their website for FMC members to start their own club, including a guidebook, templates, logos and an activity guide.