Little Shoppers are on a Mission at POP Club Farmers Markets
Posted On: October 30, 2015
This fall, FMC and Chipotle Mexican Grill sponsored Power of Produce (POP) Club programming at 30 farmers markets nationwide and the impact was far-reaching. In September, farmers saw increased sales, and markets reported not experiencing the usual drop in attendance when the kids returned to school. “The kids come running up to the market table each week, and they are very eager to do the activity and get the tokens! Then we see them walking away carrying a bag of peppers and edamame, or other vegetables, and they are beaming. The farmers, who are the ones with the best view of the kids shopping, see this as the most influential program we have ever done. This program has converted the kids into an army of little shoppers on a mission,” reports Erin Jobe, Carrboro Farmers Market Manager, Carrboro, North Carolina.
According to parents, POP Club is changing the way their youngsters eat. Empowered by their purchases and newly acquired knowledge, kids are bursting to get home and prepare a healthy meal with their parents. One parent from Fresh52 Farmers Market in Las Vegas, NV, tells market manager Carrie Hogan, “My kids can’t wait to come back every week and shop! They go home and make dinner with me every Saturday night! I am loving this! Thank you, thank you, thank you! What an amazing genius program!” Another Las Vegas shopper sees a light at the end of a vegetable-rut tunnel, “My Kid loves Okra now! Can you believe that? He wants Okra on everything! No more carrots and celery!”
The educational aspect is a draw for many families. Traveling over an hour, one family made a first time visit to the Nourish Knoxville Farmers Market, for the sole purpose to participate in the program. Parents and kids alike are enticed by the benefits POP Club has to offer, such as learning about new foods, how to prepare them, where they come from, and how to manage money. “They are learning to think about what they can get with their money, and also how to shop politely. The salsa scavenger hunt in particular was a really fun math lesson for them,” Jobe reported.
With an eye to future POP Club programs, participating markets learned how to increase capacity and expand children’s programming through community partnerships. At many markets, partner organizations provided volunteers to help run the program. Most markets operated POP Club with one or two staff members, while others utilized multiple volunteers. More than one market acknowledged the plan to use more volunteers for future POP programming. Three people helping with the program on market day proved to be ideal; one signing kids up and helping with the passports, another assisting with the activities, and a third to manage the Two-Bite Club and voucher distribution. It was also necessary to have one staff person manage the accounting and reimbursement of POP Club Vouchers post market.
Based on the first month’s reporting, FMC is now sketching out plans for future resources to add to the FMC member POP Club Toolkit. New resources could include a guidebook for finding sponsors in the community, a volunteer guide, and a children’s activities guide. If you have ideas for tools, or want to share your market’s POP Club story, email firstname.lastname@example.org.