The Market Bunch Kids Club, which started earlier this month and runs through September, gives each registered child between the ages of 5 and 14 years old $5 in “market bucks” for every trip to spend on whatever vegetables or fruits the child chooses.
The Carrboro Farmers’ Market is held on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.
“It’s really empowering to let them spend that money opposed to tagging along with Mom and Dad,” market assistant manager Margaret Krome-Lukens said.
“Hopefully, they’ll be much more excited to eat the things that they have bought.”
But the money does come with a catch: Before the kids receive their cash, they must participate in a market-sponsored activity, which Krome-Lukens said could be educational or a simple taste test.
The summer program was originally sponsored through the Carrboro Farmers’ Market grant, but Krome-Lukens said that since so much relies on the grant for funding, the program had to find outside money.
The market then received a grant through the Power of Produce Club initiative, which is funded by the Farmers Market Coalition and Chipotle Mexican Grill and pays for programs like the one in Carrboro.
With the new money, the market was able to quadruple the number of kids the program could support, Krome-Lukens said.
Now the program is not only funded, but off to a successful run. Chapel Hill resident Anna Levinsohn attended the market July 19 with her young daughter, who was exploring vendors to pick how best to spend her market bucks.
“I think it’s great,” Levinsohn said. “It’s a good idea to teach kids about the farmers market and also maybe teach them a little bit about the value of money.”
Carrboro resident Chris McQueen was at the market with his wife and children, too. He said the program seems to be a good way to teach children about supporting their local economy, eating fresher produce and knowing where their food comes from.
“We also need to make them more in tune to the seasons, knowing that you can’t always get tomatoes in the winter,” he said.
The program has been so well-received that Krome-Lukens said the market might have to cap the number of participating children to ensure the grant money holds out until the end of September.
“We have an average of about 40 kids come to every market, with a total of 200 kids participating so far,” she said.
“We’ve been pretty blown away, actually.”