More than 400 people poured through the doors of CANE Kitchen in Whitesburg last Thursday for a free “meal on the hill.” This year, the community dinner is offered – free of charge – during the Letcher County Farmers’ Market and Levitt Amp, Whitesburg’s 10-week summer concert series, as a way to make the events and market more accessible to all.
The dinner adds to six other programs the market offers to serve its community. The programs are designed to offer alternative methods of payment and encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Here’s a rundown:
- The Kids Kafé is a USDA summer feeding program that provides free lunch to all kids 18 and under (adults may also purchase meals at a low cost). Local growers provide the majority of the food, and CANE Kitchen prepares the meals. The Kafé is a collaboration of Letcher County Public Schools and the Kentucky Department of Education, with Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation (MCHC) funding the booth when school is back in session.
- The FARMACY program allows qualified families or individuals to receive “prescriptions” for local fruits and vegetables to be redeemed at the market. This program serves 200 families weekly, and is made possible by a partnership with MCHC.
- Tanglewood2Table UK Walking program is a research project in its third year. It incentivizes walking by providing $10 for individuals to spend on fresh produce for every mile they walk along the Tanglewood trail. Participants also receive meals from the CANE kitchen during the market’s off season. This year, there are 63 people in the walking program with about 57 showing up each week.
- Healthy YOUth Challenge is a booth that provides nutrition and physical challenges for youth under 18, where they can earn tokens to spend on produce at the market. This booth is run by youth from the Interns on the Creek program.
- The Double Dollars Program matches the amount of any benefits a person may be receiving (WIC, SNAP, senior vouchers), allowing a customer to purchase double the amount of produce. This program is offered with support from Community Farm Alliance’s Farmers’ Market support program.
- Through the BackPack Program, children who receive free or reduced-price meals also receive a backpack of food to take home on the weekends. Any child who receives a backpack through that program can also receive $25 to spend each week at the market, as well as a $10 gas card made possible through the Appalachian Impact Fund.
The market is also a place that values artisans, musicians and crafters, and their contributions in a creative economy. Through a variety of alternative payment methods and ways to get people moving, the Letcher County Farmers’ Market is an example of an Appalachia’s New Day that is built for everyone.
About: Appalachia’s New Day is a new storytelling effort offered by MACED to eastern Kentucky communities. We can work with you to help identify, shape and amplify stories about businesses, programs and initiatives in your community that are helping build a new economy in eastern Kentucky. Read more stories here. Contact us or sign up here if you would like more details.