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Power of Produce Club empowering children to make healthier choices

Marnie Shepersky, 9, exchanges her Power of Produce Club token for a cucumber at Brenda Kent's farmers market booth. (Photos by Shannon Geisen/Enterprise) 1 / 3
Each child, ages 4 to 12, receives a $2 token to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables from local growers.2 / 3
3 / 3

The local farmers market is introducing a free, healthy incentive program for children called The Power of Produce (PoP) Club.

Each week, kids ages 4 to 12 receive a $2 token to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables from local growers.

The Park Rapids PoP Club is funded through a $1,000 grant from CHI St. Joseph's Health and a $1,000 grant from the University of Minnesota Extension.

Developing healthy eating habits early in life has been shown to help in the fight against obesity and chronic disease, according to a PoP Club Toolkit created by the U of M Extension Family Development, Youth Development and Master Gardeners as well as the Minnesota Farmers Market Association.

The goals of PoP Club are to improve the eating behavior of children, increase family attendance at farmers markets and build a healthy community.

"It gets kids excited about buying their own veggies," said Brenda Kent of the Park Rapids Farmers Market. "A lot of markets around Minnesota have been doing it for awhile and it has been successful."

The program was originally created in Oregon City, Ore. in 2011. Due to its success, it has spread to farmers markets all over the nation. The PoP Club has been in Minnesota since 2014, and is growing to markets around the state.

The Park Rapids PoP Club includes free activities, tastings and prizes for kids. Visit the POP Club booth at the farmers market to register. Each child participating in the program receives a reusable shopping bag and a $2 wooden token to spend on fresh produce.

The Park Rapids Farmers Market meets every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in July, August and September at the ACE Hardware parking lot and Wednesdays, Aug. 1, Aug. 15, Aug. 29 and Sept. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at CHI St. Joseph's Health.

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