BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Registered Dietician Dana Ingebretson wants you to "Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables." It may sound simple, but access to healthy food options often prove confusing for folks who rely on food stamps in Western New York.
"We want to help people understand how to utilize and how to best use the tools they do have even in areas where it’s difficult to access good resources,” said Ingebretson.
"Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables" is a statewide, federally funded initiative that recently made its debut at the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market in Buffalo. The market was picked because it has one of the highest rates of SNAP benefit use.
So while low-income families are buying produce, “Just Say Yes” is the next step in the process - offering up Ingebretson's knowledge as a dietician, cooking demonstrations, and how to make the most of their food budget.
"This program here enables the education component - what do you do with all these fruits and vegetables. You might never have ever seen bok choy, or there's some fruit you've never seen before,” added Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market President Stewart Ritchie.
"We show them how to use that canned vegetable, frozen vegetable, that fresh vegetable and how they're going to use it to make it something they realize they actually like,” Ingebretson explained. “Then, they're going to make it at home and likely change the impact of their diet which is going to change their long-term health outcomes."
Each demonstration also features produce bought at the farmers market - vendors report this has helped boost their sales, as well.
"Last week we had the escarole, this week the carrots are there. People come back, they buy the carrots,” Ritchie said. “There's plenty of excellent food available at the market. I think it's important that not only our market, but other markets come to cities in other areas where there aren't a lot of fresh food choices."
"Just Say Yes” will be at the market every weekend through September.