How WIC Project FRESH brings produce to Kent Co. families

Fresh produce lines a table at a farmers market on June 22, 2017.

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Thousands of Kent County mothers are getting extra help to serve up healthy foods to their children.

WIC Project FRESH is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and run by the Kent County Health Department to help women, infants and children.

WIC program supervisor Abby Bishop says Project FRESH’s benefits are two-fold: Providing much-needed produce to WIC program participants while supporting the farmers and growers of Kent County.

Those interested in WIC Project FRESH must be enrolled in the WIC program and attend a 15-20 minute class, now through August. That class unlocks $25 worth of coupons for free fresh fruits and vegetables from area farmers markets and roadside stands. The coupons are good now through Oct. 31, 2017.

WIC program recpients attend a WIC Project FRESH class in Wyoming on June 22, 2017.

The Project FRESH class teaches the county’s approximate 15,000 WIC program participants how and where they can use their vouchers, as well as tips for shopping at farmers markets, fun snack ideas and recipes, and how to encourage picky eaters to try new fruits and vegetables.

Amy Bonjour was among those attending a Project Fresh class Thursday in Wyoming. The Gaines Township mom has a 15-month-old daughter with another child on the way.

“I’m a single mom, I work full-time. I work 40 hours a week, but I still can’t make all and get all the stuff that my daughters need,” said Bonjour.

After completing the Project FRESH class, a kaleidoscope of fresh produce is now at Bonjour’s fingertips – all she needs to do is look for the yellow signs indicating vendors who participate in the WIC Project FRESH program.

“When you go to the actual stores they’re really expensive unless they’re on sale. And even then, they’re really expensive,” Bonjour said.WIC Project FRESH

Those yellow signs are actually gold for mothers who appreciate the access to coveted fresh produce.

“I have severe food allergies – I’m allergic to anything with wheat, shellfish, and anything from a cow,” added Bonjour. “It’s fruits and vegetables, turkey, chicken, foods like that which are typically expensive in the first place. And anything that you buy at the store that’s gluten free is three to four times more expensive than like the Doritos and the Pringles and stuff like that.”

WIC program recipients can sign up for the Project Fresh class by calling the KCHD at 616.632.7200. Classes will be held in English and Spanish.