When the summer heats up in metro Atlanta, it’s time for the staff of metro Atlanta University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offices take to the streets, spreading the word about healthy eating and delivering access to fresh, healthy produce.
UGA Extension’s mobile produce stands in Fulton and DeKalb counties launched their seasons early this summer and will be sharing recipes and a rainbow of vegetables at community centers, churches, libraries and apartment complexes across the two counties.
In Fulton County, the Fulton Fresh mobile market — the original mobile produce market in metro Atlanta — will be visiting 12 neighborhoods per week during two five-week sessions, the first running through June 27 and the second from July 9 to August 8.
“The Fulton Fresh mobile farmers market is a one-stop shop vehicle that provides citizens with fresh produce, nutrition education and food demonstration in one hour or less,” said Von Baker, county Extension coordinator for Fulton County. “Residents benefit from the program by utilizing and sharing information gained at each market and sampling the market recipes.”
As it has in the past, the Fulton Fresh truck will crisscross the county, and at each stop, participants will be given a bag of locally produced vegetables. UGA Extension nutrition educators will provide a class and recipes for how to prepare the veggies and why healthy eating is important.
UGA Extension and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) educators use the “Food Talk: Farmers Market” curriculum, and each demonstration includes short, stand-alone lessons on nutrition and tactics for feeding a family on a budget.
"While participants do receive a large bag of produce, our main goal is to educate residents on the importance of eating a healthy, well-rounded diet,” said Kristen Sumpter, Fulton County Extension Family and Consumer Sciences agent. “Every year, our data shows that after participants attend the class, the majority plan to make healthy changes and eat more fruits and vegetables every week. Several participants either email us recipes they've created or show us pictures of the meals they've created with the past week's vegetables. It's inspiring to see people excited about healthy lifestyle changes."
This year the Fulton Fresh program will run from June 5 through Aug. 9. Visit the UGA Extension Fulton County Facebook page at www.facebook.com/UGAExtensionFultonCounty for a full Fulton Fresh schedule.
Just a little further east, UGA Extension agents, volunteers and nutrition educators in the DeKalb County Extension launched their fifth market season on June 4 with their Fresh on DeK bus. It will continue to provide a wide variety of affordable produce from their mint green bus. They’ll also be conducting nutrition lessons and recipe demonstrations for individuals at the market stops.
The program is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and sponsored by UGA Extension, the DeKalb County Board of Health and the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners.
The complete Fresh on DeK schedule is posted at www.freshondek.com.