Kansas Grocery Supports Healthy Local Foods

Produce items adorned with oval-shaped gold stickers at Hiawatha Thriftway, located in northeast Kansas, are grown by local farmers. Store owner Tim White partners with the local farmers’ market to bring these locally grown foods into his store.

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Johnson County WIC Community Garden

For families in Johnson County, things will get a little bit sweeter in the next few years.  The county, in partnership with the Giving Grove and the Access to Healthy Foods Coalition, planted two small orchards to supplement fresh produce for those in the WIC program.

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Lawrence Leading the Way to a Healthier Community

Did you know that the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department (LPRD) was the first community in the state of Kansas to enact department-wide nutritional standards for all of their facilities? Since 2014, the department has required food vendors, in concessions and vending machines, to provide options for healthy food and drinks which meet nutritional standards set by LPRD. The healthy choices are just one way the city is seeking ways to improve the community’s overall health.

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New orchards to supplement WIC food programs

Johnson County, in partnership with the Giving Grove and the Access to Healthy Foods Coalition, planted two small orchards last week to supplement fresh produce for those in the WIC program.

“It’ll be an extra benefit to the clients,” said Laura Drake, WIC program manager for Johnson County. In addition to WIC recipients, residents at the Center and SafeHome, as well as local food pantries, will have access to the fruit. This is the 45th such project for the Giving Grove in the area. Five of those orchards are in Johnson County.

The Access to Healthy Foods Coalition is a product of the county government, created in 2012 to help change policies to increase availability of fresh produce and other healthy items. Renee Bryant, community wellness coordinator for Johnson County, said a steward and an apprentice will help look after and manage the orchards, along with volunteers. The volunteers will be WIC participants and county employees. “The county is very interested in long-term, making this part of our efforts to cut the hunger in Johnson County,” Bryant said.

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Market Match provides double bucks for SNAP user at local farmers markets

Market Match launched its pilot season at Douglas County farmers markets in June 2014. Market Match is a dollar for dollar matching program that matches SNAP benefits (food stamps) spent at area farmers’ markets.

Market Match makes it easier for families on food stamps to purchase fresh, healthy food, and supports the local food producers that sell at the farmers’ market. Funding for Market Match is provided by Douglas County, the City of Lawrence, and the LiveWell Lawrence coalition. The pilot program funding for 2014 was $21,200.

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Kansas Grocer Forms Unique Relationship with Local Farmers

Produce items adorned with oval-shaped gold stickers at Hiawatha Thriftway, located in northeast Kansas, are grown by local farmers. Store owner Tim White partners with the local farmers’ market to bring these locally grown foods into his store. “That’s the relationship I’ve tried to build with the producers,” White said. “They come to the market to sell their goods, and they hope they sell out. If they don’t, I’m here to help them out. I want to sell that product on my shelves, too, and give people who can’t make it to the market the opportunity to buy those locally grown products out of my store.”

The local market runs out of Hiawatha Thriftway’s parking lot on Tuesday evenings and gives people the opportunity to have more access to fresh produce which might seem odd considering some of the items compete with goods sold in-store.

White said at first he was skeptical about putting competition at his front door, but he remained open-minded. “A customer looked at me and said, ‘You know, you put that farmers’ market in your parking lot, I’m going to shop it, and then I’m going to shop your store,’” he said. “So a light bulb went on at that time.”

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Healthier Options Available at Concession Stands

As a partnership between USD 373 and the Harvey County Health Department, healthier concession choices are being introduced at local sporting events. Representatives say so far, the experiment is going well.

“We wanted to demonstrate that there is a market for healthier items in concessions and ultimately create a policy that requires at least a healthier option at every event offering concessions,” said Lisa Bartel, Health and Wellness coordinator for the Harvey County Health Department.

“Healthy concession options give people more variety when they want something to eat,” said Lisa Moore, Newton High School assistant principal. “Obviously, healthy options are lower in fat and calories than typical concession food.”

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