Child Care Partner Story:
Incentive proves fruitful for Day Care Day at the Red Wing Farmers Market.
Market organizers knew we wanted to get more families down to the Red Wing Farmers Market. A few conversations with Live Well Goodhue County coordinator, David Anderson, showed us he had been thinking a lot about Day Care Centers serving healthy food in Red Wing.
David also knew that the construction project along Hwy. 61 going through downtown Red Wing was a barrier to accessing the market on many fronts. Not only a physical barrier in attempting to navigate the crazy zig-zag single lane route, but also a barrier of the unknown, a psychological barrier that goes something like “hmmm...the farmers market...never been there...don't understand what it's about...why shop like that when you can just go to the store and be done with it already?"
While the concept of eating locally may be foreign to many folks, being aware that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables - half a plate full of them - is a growing trend especially with child care providers. Evidence-based research has shown when the foundation of healthy eating is instilled at an early age, the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity is greatly reduced.
"So we thought why not bring the day care families to the market and provide an incentive to come down to see what it is like purchasing produce directly from the growers and producers themselves."
With the help of Live Well Goodhue County, we received a mini grant to offer a $10 dollar coupon to four different day care centers in Red Wing. Two Saturdays in August were scheduled so families could plan to arrange their schedules. Kids and their families meandered through vendors to find the welcome tent where they brought their coupons to be redeemed and in turn they got $10 worth of wooden coins with specific instructions from David: "Kids, only spend the wooden coins on fruits and vegetables, and only you are responsible to figure out what you want to buy."
The first week 20 families came with their coupons. The second week 22 families redeemed their coupons. This was about 25% of the families that were enrolled in the four participating day cares. While it might seem like small numbers, it was fantastic to see new faces experiencing the Red Wing Farmers Market for the first time!
Without a doubt, the vendors were pleased at the increased sales the extra traffic brought in. Having Live Well Goodhue County in our midst to be able to sponsor experimental programs that attract new audiences down to the market contributes significantly in making local, healthy food accessible and creating more Minnesota local food literacy, goals we can all agree are worthy of attaining.