Could the Power of Produce Save the Future Generations of WV?


Caliyah Newsome, Staff Writer

According to The State of Childhood Obesity, a foundation that makes policy recommendations based on the best-available data on childhood obesity rates, West Virginia’s obesity rate is 21.9%, leaving us ranked at number four in the U.S. According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), our overall obesity rate is 37.7%. Unfortunately, this is the highest obesity rate in the nation. I believe it is important to lower this rate for future generations by giving all youth an opportunity to eat healthy in a fun way. One program I would rely on to achieve this goal is called The Power of Produce, which should be offered in all elementary schools throughout the state. 

With fast food like McDonald’s available on every corner, and junk foods filling the shelves at grocery stores, it is difficult to get kids to eat their fruits and vegetables. Enter The Power of Produce–also known as POP Club–a program run through the Farmers Market Coalition that encourages children to eat healthy by attending Farmers Markets. This club offers educational games, demonstrations, exposure to fruits and vegetables, and opportunities for kids to ask local farmers questions. By exposing young children to the POP club’s healthy habits at a young age, they will learn how to care for their health while also having a good time. 

With the right resources, and determination to lower the obesity rate in West Virginia, this program could be offered to children through all elementary schools. It could start as something small: Offering it first to the counties with the highest obesity rates, for instance. Then if we see that the POP Club does benefit children, offer the program to more schools until we eventually have all of them in on the club. Children would not be the only beneficiaries. Parents would benefit by avoiding the hassle of getting their kids to eat healthy food, while an increase in demand for fresh produce would get the Farmers Market Coalition much-deserved recognition for their hard work and the role they play in providing so many communities with fresh produce.

I am aware that partnering our counties with POP may take some time and persuasion, but lowering childhood obesity rates could do so much for the health of kids and future generations of West Virginians. I think that in itself should be persuasive enough.

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