Navigators in Payson and Prescott promote food literacy at farmers markets
Note from Pinnacle Prevention: Farmers markets can be intimidating for new customers who are using multiple food assistance programs and shopping for groceries in a new way in an unfamiliar setting. Farmers Market Navigators greet customers, explain how to pay with benefits, provide tours of the market, and teach about nutrition and local food. This program is linked to statewide promotional mailers of the Double Up AZ program, which tend to increase new customer traffic at markets. Thank you to Arizona Department of Health Services and AZ Health Zone for the support. The program will expand to farmers markets in central and southern regions of Arizona during the winter season.
Kathryn Lewallen, Payson Farmers Market Navigator, August-Sept. 2019
For four Saturdays this summer, I had the privilege of serving as a Farmers Market Navigator at the Payson Farmers Market. This opportunity was provided by Pinnacle Prevention as a promotion of the Double Up Food Bucks Arizona program, as well as the Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
Donning the an eye-catching orange “Market Navigator” apron supplied to me along with other materials, I shared with market shoppers about the opportunities that the WIC and Senior FMNP, SNAP, and Double Up programs can provide.
Some of those eligible customers were already aware of the benefits of using their SNAP/EBT cards at our farmers market, but many were not. I am a long-time customer of the market, but this program helped me to see our market through fresh eyes and become more aware of just how special our vendors are. I enjoyed sharing with shoppers the special sales of the day and all the unique foods that were sold by our vendors. Pickled garlic, “red-neck” teriyaki sauce, and cauliflower pizza crust were a few of the featured items I could highlight and share with customers.
Working with John and Lorian Roethlein, the Payson Farmers Market founders, was a joy. Sharing the satisfaction of doubling shoppers’ buying power, knowing that they were taking home nutritious, local produce and foods, was a rewarding experience that I will always treasure.
Lydia Watts, Prescott Farmers Market Navigator, September 2019
I really enjoyed my four weeks as a market navigator at Prescott Farmers Market, because I had the chance the help people who really needed it. I could relate to their situation, you know – I’ve been there. People were excited that they could use their SNAP benefits at the market and get double their money.
One market customer sticks out in my mind. She was so happy to receive Double Up, and she was thankful when I got her some water and a cart to use while she shopped. She was very grateful that I helped explain the SNAP and Double Up program. I showed her which signs to look for around the market, and gave her some tips on how to spend the different tokens…like spending blue [SNAP/EBT] tokens on meat, eggs, and bread, and saving the silver [Double Up] tokens for fruits and veggies. She appreciated the tips on how to stretch her budget, as she told me that she only gets $15 a month in SNAP benefits. She even said I should get an award, which made me laugh. I saw her at the market the following week when she came back to the market to spend the rest of her tokens.
I spent my first day at the information booth, and the other days I roamed around the market. Some of the market vendors knew about the benefits programs, while others had less knowledge…but all of the vendors were excited that people had more access to fruits and vegetables, especially locally grown options. I noticed that the farmers market staff were super helpful and polite to all customers. One example is when they had to enforce the dog policy with a customer who didn’t know about it. They could have just told the customer to leave, but instead they asked if they had heard about the policy and started a conversation with them. They were so kind to everyone.