Tag Archives: farmers market

SC Plants The Seed: A Marriage Between Nutrition And Literacy

Plant the right seed and good things will grow. That’s the goal of SC Plants the Seed,  multi-component, library based intervention program that was developed to improve nutrition access and literacy, among low-income families.

Program driven by partnership

SC Plants the Seed is a partnership between DHEC (SNAP-Ed), the SC State Library, and the SC Department of Social Services.  The program currently integrates activities within four components: nutrition education, increasing access of fresh produce, USDA Summer Food Service Program, and literacy.

A summer of nutrition and reading

Once a month at the Bishopville and Pelion libraries and weekly at the Orangeburg Library, local farmers were invited to set up a farm-stand to give patrons the opportunity to purchase local farm fresh produce.  One of the goals was promoting the Healthy Bucks Program, the SCDSS farmers market incentive.  The program also set out to make it more accessible for SNAP, WIC, and Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) participants to redeem their vouchers.  Persons on SNAP could spend $5 in EBT and receive an additional $10, which only can be used with a local authorized farmer.FreshFruitVeggies

Not only did patrons have the opportunity to purchase produce but the SNAP-Ed program conducted food demonstrations and provided recipe samples prepared with the farmer’s local produce. They were also able to learn and ask about how to select, prepare, and store produce and find out what is in season.

At each event, every child received a free book, by a grant provided by the State Library, and there were arts and crafts activities. The Lee County Library in Bishopville served free meals at each event for children under 18 years of age through the USDA Summer Food Service program.

The farms and libraries that participated

The local farms that participated in the program were Martin Farms of North, SC; Rogers Vegetable Farm of Sumter, SC; and Beason Farms of Pelion, SC.  The host libraries for the summer of 2017 were Lee County Library in Bishopville, Orangeburg County Public Library-Main branch, and the Lexington County Library-Pelion Branch. The program was implemented in conjunction with each library’s summer reading programs.

SC Plants the Seed will return in the summer of 2018!

WIC Honors National Farmers Market Week

DHEC’s Division of WIC Services joined markets across the country to celebrate National Farmers Market Week during the week of August 6-12.

As demand for local food continues to grow, so too have the opportunities for America’s farmers to market fresh food directly to the consumer.

Markets benefit farmers and customers

According to statistics recently released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), farmers markets and farm stands account for roughly $2 billion of the $3 billion that Americans spend annually on farm-direct products. This revenue, in turn, supports the livelihoods of more than 165,000 mostly small and mid-sized farms and ranches.

“Farmers markets play a vital role not just in generating real income for farmers, but in forming healthy, prosperous food systems,” says Jen Cheek, executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “By providing the opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, markets serve as education centers. Farmers are teaching customers about agriculture and sharing recipes and new foods with their neighbors. Markets are making people and communities stronger and healthier.”

Providing access to fresh fruits and veggies

The WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is associated with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, popularly known as WIC. The WIC Program provides supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education at no cost to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding post-partum women, and to infants and children up to 5 years of age who are found to be at nutritional risk.

The WIC FMNP was established by Congress in 1992, to provide fresh, unprepared, locally grown fruits and vegetables to WIC participants, and to expand the awareness, use of, and sales at farmers’ markets. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the program!

During summer months, select public health departments participate in the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. The SC WIC FMNP has 249 authorized farmers.  DHEC and the S.C. Department of Agriculture encourage you to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. WIC participants receive checks that may be used for fresh produce at approved local farmers markets and farm stands. Participants also learn how to choose, store, and prepare fresh produce by attending nutrition education classes.  WIC Farmers’ Market checks may be used to purchase SC-grown, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

New recipes and farmers markets

Ready to try some delicious new recipes for your farmers market fresh fruits and vegetables?

Searching for a South Carolina farmers market?  Click here.

Meet the S.C. Farmers & Roadside Market App Team

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of a multidisciplinary DHEC team, South Carolinians this summer have been able to easily locate fresh fruits and vegetables with a click of a few buttons.

The S.C. Farmers and Roadside Market App – a free, interactive map that makes it easier to find and buy fresh produce locally— debuted in June.

Work group helped pulled project together

The successful project began more than a year ago with a work group that included representatives from various parts of DHEC, the S.C. Department of Agriculture, the S.C. Department of Social Services, and the S.C. Association of Farmers Markets.

As the partners began meeting, they identified the importance of not only developing a tool for the public but also maintaining an inventory of up-to-date information on the number of farmers’ markets and roadside markets in the state. A key detail was including information on those markets accepting food and nutrition assistance benefits, like SNAP/EBT, WIC and senior vouchers.

DHEC teams collected key information

The DHEC regional teams conducted 229 inventories—or visits and information gathering from markets and produce stands—throughout April, May and June 2015. This information was used to ultimately create the web-based app that shows the location, hours of operation and accepted payment types, including SNAP/EBT, WIC and senior vouchers programs for more than 200 farmers markets and roadside produce stands across the state.

Last month the regional teams completed the 2016 updates and collected information on even more markets statewide, said Teresa Hill, health eating consultant in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity who leads the work group.

She said the work group and the teams on the ground used lessons learned from the 2015 inventory to improve this year’s collection and analysis efforts.

Susan Collier, a member of the Midlands Community Systems team in the Rock Hill area, worked in the field to collect information from farmers and served on the statewide work group. She said the project was a great example of teamwork.

“All of us worked in our communities to make sure we maximized our reach to be as inclusive as we possibly could,” she said. “I enjoyed it as a way to get to know the community in a different way than we’ve done before.” 

george-and-madie

George Bush and Madie Orage-Green of the Lowcountry.

Many thanks to DHEC team members

Members of DHEC teams involved in the project from a regional level in 2015 and 2016 included: Kelsey Allen, Laura Long, Misty Lee and Page Rogers in the Upstate; Susan Collier, Janet Ellis, Elizabeth Gerndt, Jacquelyn Hughes, Linda O’ Neill, and Candra Riley in the Midlands; Deborah Dunbar, Regina Nesmith, Jessica Piezzo, Sara Price, and Reginald Scott in the Pee Dee; and George Bush, Sharon Crossley, Martha Dunlap, Brenda Hughes and Madie Orage-Green in the Lowcountry.

Members of the GIS team involved in the project were Phil Weinbach and Seth Church. 

Other members of the work group from DHEC included Kristian Myers, Susannah Small and Samantha Truman from the Office of Program Evaluation Services; Betsy Crick, Berry Kelly, Nakell Matthews, Rebecca Wrenn and Michelle Yates of WIC; Sandy Spann of SNAP-Ed; Robert Coaxum, Amy Curran, Harley Davis, and Khosrow Heidari of Public Health Statistics and Information Services; and Alyssa Renwick from the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.

A special shout-out to all of these valuable DHEC staff for showcasing our core values of inspiring innovation and promoting teamwork!

Fresh Fruits and Veggies This Summer

By Mary-Kathryn Craft

farmers_mkt (1)

It’s that time of year when fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful throughout the Palmetto State.

Eating fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet can reduce your risk for diseases such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Check out this map from the S.C. Department of Agriculture to find fresh S.C.-grown produce near you.

Starting this month, DHEC’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program will provide checks that can be used to purchase fresh, S.C.-grown produce at local farmers markets. Find authorized markets accepting WIC checks near you with this map.

If you’re looking for easy and creative ideas for preparing fruits and vegetables, look no further than your local farmers market. Nutrition education specialists and dietetic interns from DHEC’s Office of Professional and Community Nutrition are offering free cooking demonstrations throughout the state this summer.

The next demonstration is scheduled for June 13 at the Kershaw County Farmers Market at 222 Broad St. in Camden.

To see which fruits and vegetables are in season, find tips on choosing the right piece of produce and get recipes, check out this guide.

DHEC Celebrates National Nutrition Month

By Betsy Crick
midlands

March is National Nutrition Month and here at DHEC, we are celebrating healthy eating with food demonstrations and fresh local produce.  In Central Office, members of our WIC and SNAP teams recently provided three separate 30-minute engaging food demonstrations using fresh produce from our new mobile Farmers Market service, provided by Jumper Farm.

In addition, the Pee Dee Region recently hosted a Lunch and Learn at the Florence Health Department, with 31 people in attendance.  Two registered dietitian staff from the region provided recipes for multiple meals, and also discussed ways to reduce sodium, fat and calories with just a few small changes.

Eating healthy not only feeds your body, it feeds your mind.  To find healthy options near you, check out letsgosc.org.

Mobile Farmers Market Schedule for Central Office:

Sims/Aycock Building
Begins at 1:30 p.m. on Mondays

Mills/Jarrett Building
Begins at 2:30 p.m. on Mondays

Columbia Mills Building
Begins at 1:30 p.m. on Fridays