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Increasing Access to Fresh, Healthy Foods...One Coupon at a Time

Article and picture by Urban Alliance staff. 

"I can get fresh fruits and vegetables," "It gives better options than the grocery store," "It helps me to be healthier while pregnant," "They help me to eat more nutritious food at a lower cost." 

These were just some of the comments buzzing through conversation at the North End and West End Farmers Markets while community members exchanged their Revitalize coupons for $5 in "market dollars" that could be spent on fresh produce.
 
11,400 coupons were packed and distributed throughout Hartford during the recent months, at schools, community centers, churches, ministry organizations and through a door-to-door effort in June, where 150 volunteers from 13 churches and Christian organizations in the Urban Alliance network distributed almost 3,500 coupons in seven Hartford neighborhoods.

Along with the coupons, packets that included information about free and low-cost local health services, free summer meals and other health resources were handed out. 
 
By utilizing farmers markets, community residents can gain access to healthy foods and increase their nutrition, to help prevent and reduce the impact of adverse health conditions.  
   
But why coupons? "The coupons encourage healthy eating by raising awareness of and offering incentives to visit accessible venues that offer residents fresh produce," explained Jessica Sanderson, Urban Alliance's Senior Director of Research and Strategy. "By utilizing farmers markets, community residents can gain access to healthy foods and increase their nutrition, to help prevent and reduce the impact of adverse health conditions." 
 
Urban Alliance volunteers and interns who helped community residents redeem their coupons stayed busy, since over 1,000 coupons were redeemed this year, totaling nearly $5,000 in farmers market foods purchased.

"I enjoyed interacting and getting to know new and different people from various ethnic groups," explained Moneque Beckford, UA intern, "and I also enjoyed being able to be an asset to others, especially those within my community.  It is always an enjoyable feeling to be able to help others, especially those in need."

Plus, the coupons are a catalyst for increasing use of the farmers market for people who never had. In fact, 46% of those who redeemed coupons had rarely or never been to the farmers market last year, while 92% planned to return.

Community residents excitedly shared what plans they had for using their fruits and veggies, including 92 year-old Alice, who couldn't wait to get home a cook up some green tomatoes.

As another season of the Revitalize Community Health Outreach winds down, the orchestra of hundreds of volunteers, dozens of churches and community organizations, two farmers markets, and thousands of coupons worked together to impact the lives of countless people in our local community by helping provide avenues for achieving optimal physical health. And that is something to celebrate!

If you, your church or organization would like to get involved with next year's Revitalize Community Health Outreach, please contact Angela Colantonio, Urban Alliance's Director of Implementation, Health and Basic Needs, at angela.colantonio@urbanalliance.com or 860.986.7724 x20.

 

 You may also be interested in:

2016 Revitalize Coupons Exchanged for Thousands of Dollars in Fresh Produce
Rooted in Wellness: Reviltalize Helps Hartford Residents Live Healthy Lives

2016 Community Health Outreach Day: 6,000 Health Resource Bags Distributed by 150 Volunteers
Revitalize Brings Hope and Healing: An Invitation to Participate
Reach Thousands Through the Revitalize Community Health Outreach

 

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