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Regular consumption of unhealthy foods and limited access to better options are two issues routinely affecting New York City's population. In order to address these, NYC has joined forces with the city's Department of Health, and together they have designed three key programs under their Farmers Markets strategy: Stellar Farmers Markets, Farmers Markets for Kids and Farm to Preschool.
The Stellar Farmers Markets program provides free, bilingual education workshops and cooking demonstrations and recipes at several farmers markets throughout the city, promoting the benefits of healthy eating and using locally grown, seasonal produce. As an incentive to attend the workshops, "Health Bucks" (coupons worth $2 each) are given to those participating in the National Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program with Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. These coupons can then be redeemed when buying fresh fruits and vegetables at all farmers markets across NYC.
In order to instill healthy eating habits in young consumers, NYC has two other initiatives: Farmers Markets for Kids and Farm to Preschool. The former focuses on bilingual, creative food workshops and hands-on activities, and the latter brings fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables to participating New York City preschools, giving parents, staff and community members weekly access to fresh produce (which they can also pay for with Health Bucks and EBT cards). Farm to Preschool covers 11 locations across NYC, while Farmers Markets for Kids was hosted at two markets in South Bronx from July to October 2016. Stellar Farmers Markets is the largest municipal program providing access to fresh produce for low-income New Yorkers.
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Header image by The All-Nite Images on Flickr