Healthy Blue has increased its annual sponsorship of a program that supplies kids with $5.00 tokens to buy fresh produce when they visit the Alexandria Farmers Market. The increase to Kids Club means more money will be circulated at the market, which supports local vendors who sell vegetables, fruits and other homegrown items. “Healthy Blue has supported Kids Club at the Alexandria Farmers Market since it began in 2016, and they’ve been generous in increasing the sponsorship each year as the program grows,” said Allison Tohme, director of Regional Farmers Market Development for the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. Healthy Blue Louisiana is providing $7,500 for Kids Club in 2019, allowing the market to serve even more kids.
The Kids Club incentive program is designed to encourage children to sample and consume locally grown fruits and vegetables, and it helps the economy by giving farmers an opportunity to sell their produce locally. “As a health plan, we understand having access to nutritious food is sometimes taken for granted,” said Aaron Lambert, president, Healthy Blue. “One of our goals is to remove barriers to overall health and well-being and that includes supporting efforts to help ensure Louisianans have access to healthy nourishment.”
“These kids are growing up with the market. We have families who participate in Kids Club every week, and it’s amazing to see the kids get to know farmers, shop on their own and try new foods,” Tohme said.
The Alexandria Farmers Market, located at 2727 Jackson St., operates from 3-6 p.m. every Tuesday, rain or shine. To participate in Kids Club, children can stop by the Welcome Tent to receive their $5.00 token. Tokens are given on a first-come, first served basis, and they are limited to one per family. “We’re seeing an increase in visitors to the market each year, and one of the big reasons is because of incentive programs like Kids Club,” Tohme said.
Kids Club is part of the Central Louisiana Local Food Initiative, a community effort that aims to strengthen Central Louisiana’s local foods economy while increasing access to fresh foods for all residents of the region. The initiative was created in 2012 with a Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana Grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation of Louisiana and matching funding from The Rapides Foundation. Administered by CLEDA, the Initiative is supported by funding from the USDA as well as a philanthropic investment from Keller Enterprises, LLC.
For more information about Kids Club, contact Allison Tohme at (318) 441-3423.