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Project FRESH 2020

Delicious apples, juicy peaches, yummy blueberries, all Michigan grown fruits, that can be purchased at road side stands. Summer provides parents and children an opportunity to experience the taste of Michigan in new and exciting ways. Through Project FRESH, mothers and children who receive WIC benefits, can pick up their coupons at their local health department and use them to purchase fresh produce at participating farmer’s markets.

Each qualifying participant can receive $25 in coupons that can be redeemed between June 1st and October 31st. Coupons can be used anywhere the yellow, laminated Project FRESH poster is displayed. With these coupons, families can purchase a variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs including: broccoli, carrots, potatoes, squash, peaches, apples, tomatoes, basil, cilantro, dill, lemon grass, marjoram, oregano and parsley. According to Kali Nichols, Director of Personal Health for the tri-county Community Health Agency, “These foods are healthy and tasty on their own, and when combined with other WIC foods, they provide high sources of Vitamin C, Iron and Calcium that helps block lead from being absorbed into the body.” The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency encourages moms and children to try the following easy-to-make, kid-friendly recipes with their Project FRESH produce and WIC foods.

  • 4 cups chopped apples
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups mixed salad greens

Combine apples and cheddar and serve over greens. Top with dressing of choice or make your own by mixing ¼ cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons honey and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Toss gently to coat.

  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 8 slices of bread
  • 4 teaspoons butter or margarine
  • 2 cups sliced peaches

In bowl, beat eggs and milk together. Dip bread into egg mixture so bread is thoroughly soaked. Heat frying pan on medium heat and coat with 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine. Put 2 bread slices in pan and heat until lightly browned. Turn slices over and heat until browned. Repeat until all bread slices are done. (Use 1 teaspoon of butter for every 2 slices of bread). Top with sliced peaches.

  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of apple juice concentrate (undiluted)
  • Nutty or nugget-type cereal

Wash and freeze blueberries. Place frozen fruit, yogurt and apple juice concentrate in blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into glass. Sprinkle with cereal on top.

  • 4 cups thinly-sliced apples
  • 1 tablespoon of apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Topping:
    • ½ cup quick-cooking oatmeal, uncooked
    • ¼ cup flour
    • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
    • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
    • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine

Combine apples, juice, sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Mix well. Put the mixture into a lightly-greased 8-inch square pan. Combine oats, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut the butter or margarine into the topping mixture using a fork until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the topping over the apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Nichols adds “These recipes are fun to make and full of flavor. By making them together, parents can teach their children, in a hands-on way, about how to eat healthy and how to make good food choices.” These recipes are only one of the many types of family-friendly health tips mothers of young children can receive through the Community Health Agency’s WIC Facebook page. “Like” our page and receive regular updates, recipes, informative tips, resources andannouncements about upcoming events.

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Additionally, Senior Project FRESH is a similar program aimed at helping older adults eat healthier as they age. The program provides participants free nutrition counseling and $20 in coupons that can be exchanged for fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods sold at local farmers markets and roadside stands. Seniors in Branch County can get their coupons at the Community Action Agency, the VA Office or at the Burnside Center. Hillsdale County seniors can get theirs at the Hillsdale County Senior Services Center, and St. Joseph County seniors can get their coupons at the Commission on Aging.