March 27th, 2014

Maryland Farmers Market Association Seeks to Expand “Market to Mealtime” Nutrition Education Program

by Maryland Farmers Market Association

During the upcoming farmer’s market season, the Maryland Farmers Market Association seeks to expand Markets to Mealtime, a farmers market nutrition education program that provides consumers with recipes featuring fresh, in season fruits and vegetables in season at the market, information about federal nutrition programs, and specific, individualized tips and tricks on preparing food available at market.

In order to gain a better understanding of why the Markets to Mealtime program is such a valuable educational tool to consumers as market, the Maryland Farmers Market Association sat down with Project Coordinator Kristen Blazsik, of Share Our Strength, to discuss her experiences with the “on the ground” implementation of the program.

What is the purpose of Markets to Mealtime?

The purpose of Market to Mealtime is to meet an individual at their specific level of knowledge in nutrition education. The program highlights the importance of making fruits and vegetables at least half of each meal, and therefore making produce the central aspect to a meal, as opposed to meat. Market to Mealtime offers recipes which highlight fruits and vegetables that are in season. The program also stresses the importance of purchasing local and all the benefits the community and the individual can benefit from buying local. The unique aspect of this program is the ability to work one on one with individuals and decipher what they might exactly need based on information they divulge.

What was the best interaction that you or a volunteer had while conducting Market to Mealtime nutrition education?

The best interaction I had took place while I was presenting the program at the Druid Hill market. A middle aged man with two young children came up to me and requested nutrition education information I had. I passed out materials on MyPlate, the nutrients in different colors of produce, and information on what produce was currently in season. He told me that he wanted to change his entire diet so that he and his children could be the healthiest possible. I gave him some links that provided more recipes and physical activities for the entire family. I also gave him information on how and his family could start their own garden. He was so excited about all the information that he told me he was going to make one of our recipes for dinner for his family. I saw this man months later at another nutrition education event my organization held and he told me that he and his family had completely changed their diet, and figured out how to do so on a budget. It was an extremely touching experience.

Why would you suggest volunteering to conduct Markets to Mealtime Nutrition education?

I would suggest volunteering this program because you will for one, learn a large amount on nutrition education. You will receive an opportunity to work on a personal level with members of the community and work with farmers’ markets. I think there’s something very exciting about this program, the sense of community and the importance of eating produce, who could ask for more?

Moving forward, the Maryland Farmers Market Association is preparing to expand Markets to Mealtime into a statewide, year round education program.

If you are interested in having Markets to Mealtime nutrition education at your farmer’s market, please use the “Contact Us” Page of the Maryland Farmer’s Market Association website.

If you are interested in volunteering to conduct Markets to Mealtime nutrition education at one of our partner markets, please fill out the Volunteer Form on our website. Volunteer opportunities are available during various days and times of week throughout the state, particularly throughout the city of Baltimore. All of those interested in learning more about Markets to Mealtime are encouraged to fill out the volunteer form!

Volunteers are asked to commit to conducting nutrition education at the market assigned to them at least one time per month throughout the duration of the market season. Nutrition education training and materials will be provided to all volunteers before beginning their volunteer position.

About the Author Maryland Farmers Market Association