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SoBo Farmers Market , Sentara getting more kids to eat healthy local food!

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KidsChildren 18 and younger can come to the South Boston Farmers Market on Saturday mornings and take two bites of the vegetable of the week.

The Downtown South Boston Farmers Market has announced its newest program, POP: The Power of Produce.

The POP Program is a national initiative to provide a fun opportunity for children to engage in the local food system.

Children 18 and younger can come to the market on Saturday mornings and take two bites of the vegetable of the week. If they do that, they get a $5 voucher to spend at the market. It’s that simple, according to Market Manager Ben Capozzi.

“Kids can buy healthy baked goods, fresh fruit and produce, vegetable plants and herbs,” Capozzi said. “They can’t use the vouchers for candy or crafts or flowers, but this is a great program that we couldn’t offer without our community partners.”

Downtown South Boston Farmers Market President Kimberly Rich reached out to many community partners to help fund the program, and Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital stepped up as a major sponsor.

“Sponsoring the POP program at the South Boston Farmers Market was a great way to attach our name and mission of ‘Improving Health Every Day’ to a program that is truly helping to improve the health of our community, starting with children,” said Faith Oneil, customer development manager at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital. “We are proud to be a part of such a wonderful project.”

Rich said the board of the Downtown South Boston Farmers Market is grateful to Sentara for helping launch the program, adding, “Together, we’re not just empowering children to make healthy food choices, we’re carrying out our mission to support farmers and cultivate future farmers market supporters.”

Through conversations directly with farmers, educational games and demonstrations and exposure to new fruits and vegetables, the Downtown South Boston Farmers Market aims to welcome more children to the market each week and to better serve the community.

Capozzi said the market is committed to helping to connect families and farmers in Halifax County, and he said he’s seen firsthand how excited kids get by the program.

“When they first start coming, kids are reluctant to try an asparagus spear or even a raw strawberry, but after a season of learning to be little shoppers, I see kids practically dragging their parents to the POP table to see what’s on the menu and to inspect the week’s produce. It’s incredible.”

Downtown South Boston Farmers Market Treasurer Matthew Rich says the program will run year round for as long as funds are available to sustain it, and he encourages anyone interested in helping to sponsor the program to contact the market.

“We’d love to have more sponsors, so that we can reach children throughout the whole growing season.”

Interested persons and organizations can contact the market manager at 434- 489-7533 or by emailing Board President Rich at dtsbfm.president@gmail.com.