Beginning this week, the 101 Zena Drive facility will host the first of two farmers markets for those enrolled in the WIC program. WIC provides nutritional education to qualifying women and children, as well as vouchers that can be redeemed at participating retailers for healthy foods. Held from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday, and Thursday, Aug. 9, WIC participants can exchange their vouchers for Georgia-grown produce at the markets.
"Fruits and vegetables naturally provide fiber, which is essential for healthy bowel function. Fruits and vegetables also provide large amounts of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, E and C. These vitamins reduce the risk for cancer through their antioxidant properties and are involved in immune function, vision, and the growth, maintenance and repair of body tissues," said Rachel Christian, RN and public health nurse specialist. "Eating fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned, frozen, dried or otherwise processed produce provides even more vitamins and nutrients without added preservatives or other artificial chemicals.
"The Bartow County Health Department WIC Farmers Market highlights the health benefits of eating fresh produce by giving WIC participants the opportunity to select favorite fruits and vegetables from a variety of produce. In addition to the usual fruits and vegetables WIC participants receive in exchange for their normal vouchers, each family will also receive an additional $30 worth of produce during the farmers market."
Bartow County Health Department Nurse Manager Cathy Green said the benefits go beyond just the mothers.
"Not only do the farmers markets improve the nutritional status of our community, but they support Georgia farmers as well," she said.
WIC is one of the many services offered by the Bartow County Health Department. Those eligible for WIC services include pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants from birth until 1 year of age, and children ages 1 to 5. Qualification for the WIC program further depends upon the participant's residency and income status, as well as his or her nutritional risk factors.
"WIC participants receive nutritional education from nutritionists in one-on-one and group settings. Nutritional education is individualized according to participants' nutritional risk factors and includes topics such as safe preparation of food and formula, the importance and benefits of breastfeeding, appropriate portion sizes, planning healthy meals and more. Referrals to other healthcare services are added benefits of participation in the WIC program," Christian said.
"WIC participants also receive vouchers redeemable at participating retailers for healthy foods. The purpose of WIC vouchers is to supplement participants' diets to ensure availability of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. WIC vouchers are redeemable for foods from all of the major food groups, including fruits and vegetables."
For more information about the farmers markets or the WIC program, contact the Bartow County Health Department at 770-382-1920.