Celebrating National Health Literacy Month today and every day
Did you know that October is National Health Literacy Month?
For the Be Healthy team, observing National Health Literacy Month is a year-round affair. Through our five-year CDC High Obesity Program (HOP) partnership, we are able to support communities in Clay and McDowell Counties in their efforts to make healthy foods and physical activity opportunities more accessible.
Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of working with more than 30 groups to fund projects like walking trails, senior produce bag programs, and dozens of other initiatives. One of the partnerships we’ve established has been the kids markets, which provide funds for each participating child to purchase produce with at their local grocery store or market.
The Kids Market at the Store, overseen by Kristin McCartney, WVU Extension Specialist in Public Health and SNAP-Ed Director for West Virginia, was started in 2014 and has been hosted in 22 counties across the state, including the Be Healthy initiatives in McDowell and Clay.
Funding for the program’s development and marketing is provided by SNAP-Ed; and external funding, including HOP support, helps cover costs of produce.
The kids markets have several goals: to encourage kids to eat fresh vegetables and fruits, increase health literacy for those students and their families, and to support local farmers in the process.
“The goal is really to empower families through kids to add more fruits and vegetables to their plate,” Kristin said. “So, as part of the program, we enroll families, and they get $30 for the-six week program and are encouraged to allow the kids to shop. We set up kid-sized carts at the shopping locations that are bright and colorful and attractive to kids, we send the kids all their own reusable shopping bag, and they all get a passport so they can track what different things they have tried.”
For the projects in McDowell and Clay, WVU Extension and Be Healthy have worked through the Grow Grocery mobile market in McDowell County and partnered with local grocery stores in Clay County, including Nottingham’s Store in Duck; Small Town Market in Clay, and Legacy Foods in Indore.
In participating counties, the program has been advertised on social media and through print flyers sent home with students. This year, Be Healthy has helped support 217 families. Participants redeem their funding via tokens at the register.
“It’s helpful for those that don’t have kind of extra food dollars to spend, because the thing with kids is, you know, a lot of times they don’t like vegetables, and if you’re on a limited food budget, you really don’t want to spend money on something that may go to waste,” Kristin said. “It kind of subsidizes that and saves the family from having to worry about that cost.”