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Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 3:27am

Nutrition Program Offers Fresh Produce

Temporary farmers’ markets are springing up across the state this summer, offering thousands of low-income mothers and young children fresh, Georgia-grown fruits and vegetables as part of a federal nutrition program.

The benefits are part of the Women, Infants and Children program for pregnant women, new moms, and children under 5. In addition to financial help with some of their groceries, they can also get vouchers to buy $30 to $60 of fruits and vegetables at the markets set up by health districts or from approved farmers.

They also learn how to eat better.

“We provide them with nutrition education materials and also cookbooks with recipes that they can take home that show them meals they can prepare utilizing fruits and vegetables,” said Chandrea Mays, a nutritionist in the North Central Health District.

The district is in the middle of a two-week farmers’ market in middle Georgia’s Baldwin County, where they’ve already seen more than 700 clients.

“It benefits the local farmer in terms of giving them some of that revenue, but more so for the clients,” said Brenda Forman, who runs the program in the West Central Health District. “We’re really trying to push the importance of fresh fruit and vegetables.”

Nutritionists say eating more fresh produce can reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.

Forman said about 2,000 people in her 16-county area will use the program this summer.