Splash Into a Healthy Summer

After a challenging spring, everyone is ready for summer break. While we continue to live with the pandemic, summer can still mean the start of something new and fresh and healthy.

Whether you work with children or adults, here are some ways they can splash into a summer of healthy eating:

Fresh Herbs: Plant a few of your favorite herbs to use in summer salads and salsas. Or buy fresh herbs at the farmer’s market. For more on herbs:

Knife Skills: Practice your knife skills by cutting up summer fruits and veggies. Make it fancy or keep it simple. Even kids can be taught to use a knife safely. Chopping tips:

Plan It: Meal planning keeps healthy eating on track all summer long. Plan for a week or plan for a day … whatever works for you! Tools to use:

Cook Together: Make meal prep a group effort by giving everyone a job … even if it’s a little messy.

Buy Something New: Buy yourself something a new kitchen gadget to use with summertime fruits and veggies. Maybe a salad spinner, a special container for fresh produce, or a new vegetable brush.

Try something new:

  • Outside: Grill salmon, pizza, or a head of romaine lettuce.
  • Inside: Try salad in a jar. And make your own salad dressing.

Summer with MyPlate: Check out MyPlate Summer Resources, including this cute idea for a “mad-libs” type of activity.

 

Farmer’s Markets & COVID-19

May marks the beginning of the farmer’s market season in many parts of the country. With COVID-19, most markets will open as planned, with social distancing, handwashing stations, online ordering, curbside delivery, and other changes to make shopping safe for everyone.

This is a good time to encourage your clients to support their local farmer’s market or farm stand. Farmers aren’t selling as much produce to restaurants, so they need the income as well as something to do with their harvest. And we need healthy food!

Here are six teaching tips for farmer’s market season:

1. Let your clients know the many benefits of shopping farm stands and markets.

  • Markets are a source of healthy, locally-grown food.
  • Locally-grown food is in season and at its peak for taste and nutrition.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables supply a host of nutrients that boost your immune system.
  • If farmers go out of business, this source of healthy local food won’t be available to us in the future.

2. Emphasize that fresh produce from farmer’s markets and farm stands (and for that matter, grocery stores) is safe to eat.

  • According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is no evidence that food or food packaging is involved with the transmission of COVID-19 (up-to-date information is available on their website and on this PDF).
  • Follow basic COVID-19 safety guidelines when shopping:
    • Check before you go – some markets and farmers are doing online-only pre-ordering.
    • Wash your hands before and after shopping.
    • Wear a mask and stay at least six feet from others.
    • Don’t touch the food. Many vendors will have produce bagged and ready. Let them get it for you.
    • Pay with your debit/credit/SNAP card and avoid using cash.
    • Be patient – with extra safety measures it may take more time than usual.
    • Get what you need and go – avoid socializing.
  • When you get home, rinse all produce (follow FDA’s normal tips).

3. Remind clients that real food grows … and you can find it at the farmer’s market! See our beautiful Real Food Grows poster that conveys this message.

  • Did the food you’re looking at grow into what it now is, or has it been processed with other elements to create a new food?
  • Processed foods are usually calorie-dense, high in unhealthy types of fat, refined sugars, and sodium, and low in fiber.

4. Use our poster to teach people how fruits and veggies from the farmer’s market make you a winner!

  • Weight – fruits and veggies are naturally low in calories and help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • I am healthier – eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies is associated with a lower risk for many chronic diseases.
  • Nutrients – fruits and veggies are major contributors for nutrients most people are lacking.

5. Make it fun to learn about the fruits and vegetables you’ll probably see at the farmer’s market with the Vegetable Cooking Program or Name That Fruit and Veggie Game.

6. Remind clients who use SNAP that their food dollars may go further when they buy fresh produce. Most states have programs that provide a dollar for dollar match when you use your SNAP/EBT card to buy fruits and vegetables at farmer’s markets and some retail stores. (Find out more about Double Up Bucks and similar incentive programs here.)

And don’t forget about community supported agriculture (CSA)! Find out what’s available in your area so you can give your clients all the information they need to get a steady supply of fresh, local healthy produce all season long.

Bring the Farm to Your Table

Farmer’s market season is right around the corner. After a winter of frozen veggies and supermarket tomatoes, local produce is going to look and taste so good!

Why not take your nutrition education on the road and set up a nutrition display at the farmer’s market? Our Bring the Farm to Your Table theme has everything you need. You may also want to check out our Farm to School items. And to really get noticed, use our Fruit and Veggie Shaped Balloons.

Here are four activities to try:

  • Q&A: Answer shoppers’ questions about items on sale at the market. Tell them how to select, store, and prepare the produce, as well as the nutrition benefits. Give them a Farm to Your Table Notepad to jot down your advice.
  • Name That Veggie: Display a few items from the market and see who can identify them. Make it tricky, like a variety of leafy greens or less-familiar fruits and vegetables. Our Bring the Farm to Your Table stickers and bookmarks make great prizes.
  • One-Bite for Kids: Have bite-size samples of market items for kids to taste. Give a special prize to those brave little tasters who try all of them. We suggest our fun Fruit and Vegetable Masks!
  • Try It & Buy It: Have samples of market items for shoppers to taste. If they go buy it, they can come back and get a prize (everyone loves our youth and adult Go Farm to Table wristbands).

Ask market vendors for free fruits and vegetables to use for your activities, since you’ll hopefully send some business their way.

Click here for 15% off our farm to table materials – discount good until the end of the week. Or use code LOVEFARM

Custom farm to school wall decals brighten and educate school walls


 

Paula Wucklund, Fuel Up to Play 60 Coach, and physical education teacher, wanted to help her fellow PE teachers and school cafeterias in Arkansas. She wanted to illustrate how the farm to school program brings healthier foods into the schools and to create awareness of MyPlate, physical activity, and healthier eating for the students and the staff.

She contacted us and we designed custom wall decal banners for Arkansas schools. The first goal was to feature the stories and photos of many of the wonderful farmers in Arkansas to show how they work hard to grow crops, raise livestock, and produce dairy foods for students. And she wanted to illustrate MyPlate food groups with their goals and benefits. Finally we included photographs of each of the food groups.

The benefits of the end result is easy to see in the photos above. The 5 food groups were featured on wall decals while the MyPlate floor banner greets the students coming into the cafeteria. The items can be adhered to the walls and they are removable.

The schools will have a choice between vertical or horizontal orientations so that they can determine which works best for their walls.

The Arkansas Farm to School program connects Arkansas farmers to preschools and K-12 schools, so that they can provide fresh produce in school meals. The wall decal posters/banners that we created will help students, teachers, and cafeteria workers realize the importance of agriculture and healthful diets for school meals.

Food and Health Communications designed the banners and provided all of the forms so that Paula could contact the farmers and get their high-quality images and stories to share on the banners. They also provided the expertise for recommending MyPlate food groups and for the colorful food images. And their graphic design gave the banners an Arkansas state icon and brand.

We can create a set of farm to school banners for any school program. Contact us to get help now.