Clients enrolled in the Women, Infants and Children Program receive vouchers to obtain food staples from grocery stores. But the vouchers do not include fresh fruits and vegetables, foods vital to developing and maintaining good health.
Robin Stanley, a WIC certifier, and Sharlea Payne, executive director of the Ron Wood Family Resource Center, have come up with a program to get fresh produce to their clients - at no cost.
With a special-project grant of $1,000 and community donations, all Carson City grocery stores are donating fresh produce for a Thursday morning farmers market at the center.
"The vouchers clients receive for food assistance do not include vegetables and other produce," said Payne. "The farmers market is a way to get necessary nutrients through the 'Five-A-Day' nutrition guidelines set by the (Food and Drug Administration) into the family's healthy living."
Beginning Thursday, the market will be set up on the breezeway in front of the center, at 212 E. Winnie Lane, from 9-11 a.m. Clients can earn vouchers by attending programs at the center or arriving for their appointments on time.
"The more the client uses services and programs available, the more vouchers they can receive," Payne said.
She said the center is not competing with other markets.
"We are not selling veggies," Payne said. "We are simply making them available to our clients through the vouchers."
Staff of the WIC Program will run the market. They will also offer games to the clients with stuffed produce toys as prizes for children and as another incentive to receive a voucher.
"Produce will vary from week to week," Payne said. "It will depend on what's fresh and available. The client will have their choice of anything. It's all fresh."
Payne said if the program works well, they will take the idea to the state WIC conference, with hopes it can be utilized elsewhere and become a national program.
Beginning today, free lunch will be available to youths age 18 and younger from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the center. The lunches are possible through a Summer Food Service Program grant, through the Nevada Department of Education.
"We pick up the sack lunches and a carton of milk from Carson High School and bring them to the center. These are available to anybody; they don't have to be a client to get the free lunch.
"There are kids out there who don't have enough food to eat, especially at summertime. They're not at school to get a regular meal.
"The whole concept is to encourage kids who don't have anywhere else to go during the summer, to have somewhere to go and something to do. We will have activities available. There will be things for them to do.
"But we are not a baby-sitting service," Payne added. "This is a safe place for kids to come to. They don't have to be a client to get a good meal and participate in an activity. We'll have face painting and arts and crafts."
The Kids on the Go free summer bus program operates June 20 to Aug. 12. It is available to ages 7 through 18.
For routes and information, call the Community Council on Youth at 841-4730. Carson City School District bus rules apply; no skateboards are allowed.
Funding for the bus program is provided through the Carson City Board of Supervisors, Community Council on Youth and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada.
n Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1223.