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Free program helping kids “shop” for fruits and vegetables generates excitement, seeks more funding

Kids Market @ The Store participant Stella Shaw counts out tokens.
Kids Market @ The Store participant Stella Shaw counts out tokens at Nottingham's Store in Duck.

Nottingham’s Store in Duck, West Virginia, is one of those old-timey general stores that sells a little bit of everything — cold pop, canned goods, fishing tackle, even pipe fittings. But this century-old store recently added something brand new to its inventory — locally grown fruits and vegetables, courtesy of the Kids Market @ The Store.

Kids Market @ The Store is a new initiative by the West Virginia University Extension Family Nutrition Program, aimed at teaching kids healthy habits by allowing them to “shop” for free fruits and vegetables at participating retail locations in their counties. Each family receives $30 in tokens, which children spend at the store’s Kids Market @ The Store display. These displays are stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables grown by West Virginia farmers.

“After a successful two-county pilot program in 2021, we rolled out Kids Market @ The Store to 22 more counties this year. And parents and kids have been thrilled,” said Kristin McCartney, WVU Extension assistant professor and public health specialist. “We only had one problem. Due to funding constraints, not all the families who signed up were able to participate.”

The WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program secured funding for over 3,000 families to participate. But about 3,000 more families had to be placed on a wait list.

McCartney is looking for grants to expand Kids Market @ The Store more in 2023. But anyone can donate to the program online at https://give.wvu.edu/KidsMarket@TheStore


For each $30 donated to this campaign, one family will be able to access the Kids Market @ The Store program. 

Nearly all of that money will go directly into the pockets of West Virginia farmers, who provide the fresh fruits and vegetables for each Kids Market @ The Store. 

“We’ve found, again and again, that kids will eat more fruits and vegetables if they are the ones who pick the foods out. With programs like Kids Market @ The Store, we are creating the next generation of consumers who value fresh, healthy foods and care about where that food comes from,” McCartney said.

WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program’s work is supported by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

-WVU- 

zrh/09/16/22

CONTACT:
Zack Harold
Multimedia Specialist
WVU Extension Family Nutrition Program
304.550.2186; zackary.harold@mail.wvu.edu

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