Youth Bucks - A Proven Tool Empowers the Next Generation of Localvores
by Lynn Fredericks, Family Cook Productions
Students in grades K-2 were asked to develop a shopping list to make a vegetable soup in their classroom. The students’ individual lists were developed into a master shopping list, and off the class went to their local farmers’ market. There, each child was handed a “Youth Buck” coupon worth $2 for redemption of fresh produce at the market. According to the school principal, Naomi Smith, each student made a purchase that would contribute to their soup. “They all participated in the planning, shopping and cooking - it was a very meaningful experience that got them excited about eating vegetables,” she confirmed.
That such a meaningful experience of the steps to a healthy meal can happen in school is thanks to the wisdom of the Manhattan Borough President’s Go Green Youth Bucks Program. The project, a collaboration of Go Green and the NYC Department of Health, is designed to encourage students from the ages of 8-17 to purchase produce and other items when visiting Farmers Markets as part of a field trip. Youth Bucks are $2.00 coupons that can be redeemed at participating farmers markets. The coupons work like existing federal farmers’ market coupons but are financed by the NYC Department of Health. Markets belonging to Harvest Home Farmers’ Markets and Greenmarkets, both active members of FSNYC, are participating in the Youth Bucks pilot. From October 2009 - November 2009 over 500 children will have participated in the program in East Harlem. Due to the great success of this program, as happy students, teachers and principals attest, planned expansion into Washington Heights, Inwood, and the Lower East Side is slated for summer 2010.