Health: Bonus 10
How do you teach children to eat their fresh vegetables, if they aren’t served vegetables?
That is the question and the underlying purpose behind the Bonus 10 Food Bucks Program. Since the summer of 2015, United Way, along with other community partners, has been supporting this program to get fresh food to those living below the poverty line, who may not otherwise be able to afford fresh produce. But there’s more to the program—hope that shoppers of locally grown produce will also learn about the food they are purchasing and how to prepare it.
Numerous community outreach initiatives have been introduced in collaboration with the Oshkosh Farmers Market to achieve this goal, including Meet Me at the Market grocery bags, Discover the Market Certificates, Double Bonus Program, and a Market Food Survey.
Since its launch in 2015, the Bonus 10 Food Bucks program allows Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP) recipients to spend $10 or more in market tokens and get an additional 10 free tokens. The tokens can be used to purchase fruits, vegetables, meat, and seafood. In 2016 in collaboration with the Oshkosh Food Pantry, the program was expanded for children age four to eighteen. The Discover the Market program gives each child using the Kid’s Corner at the food pantry a certificate good for 10 market tokens which can be used at the pantry or the Farmers Market. The child must redeem the tokens in person and then can share with their family. The Discover the Market certificates were distributed through the Oshkosh Food Pantry and The Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh.
Dennis and Karlene Leatherman, recently retired Farmers Market managers, have enjoyed seeing the kids using the Discover the Market program. “They are so excited to be able to spend their tokens and do so with great care. One young boy used his 10 tokens to first buy (unpopped) popcorn for the family, blueberries for his mother and then with his remaining tokens bought his favorite food, mushrooms,” stated Karlene. The Leathermans also note that the Discover program has resulted in entire families coming to the market and parents commenting on how happy they are that their children really want to come.
Program Manager, Michael Cooney, notes that SNAP spending at the market has more than doubled since its inception. “It’s a great program and everybody wins. The farmers get more customers, there is better nutrition for everybody, and we help participants stretch their SNAP dollars.”
The Difference YOU Make with your donation to United Way is felt in the everyday food choices and options of families in our community.