This is one of our newest projects and builds on the last few years of our Meet Me at the Market (MM@TM) work. I wanted to share the early days of the project, although we are not ready to talk about measurable outcomes-since it’s only the first full week-and our market staff is running everywhere (not walking) these days to accomplish their to-dos on their calendar!
The Meet Me at the Market has been marketumbrella.org’s project for the last 4 years in which we travel to schools and community centers, do some activity with the attendees and then invite the organizers to visit on a selected day where we have a tent set up and a staff or volunteer person ready to assist the group. The purpose of the MM@TM (and targeted incentives) is we believe that once we build the relationship with the shoppers that goes beyond a passive chance visit to the market, we make long-term market community members, especially when there are barriers such as transportation issues, lack of knowledge about how to use open-air markets, or past purchase barriers (food stamps as an example) to overcome. The more barriers, the stronger the incentives.
Therefore we work to find ways to get our groups back as soon as possible, as often as possible. This has been an excellent way to introduce our Senior FMNP incentive; that incentive is where we offer a matching 24 dollars after they complete their FMNP booklet (to spend on other non-FMNP foods.) Those seniors stretch out the tokens as they did the coupons, coming in cooler months with family members to buy dairy or seafood with their tokens. Of course, they also know our market staff and interact with them more often throughout the year which builds trust and more knowledge transfer.
It has been harder to find some measurable outcome from the schools that have visited in the past years, as not all are using the market to teach the same lesson. So for 2011, we came up with a project we hope will do that and introduce more food-vulnerable children to the benefits of the market community.
This project has targeted a handful of schools that have a 50% +1 free and reduced meal enrollment, and are in zip codes near to one of our markets. The staff goes to the school, does a quick pre-Market visit tutorial in the classroom. This is where we measure their local food knowledge with our Bean Survey tool. Soon after, they attend the Market with their school in order to a) observe and participate in commercial and social transactions, b) attend a cooking and tasting lesson, and c) bring home from the Market sample specialty crops and an invitation to join the Market’s summer Marketeer events. The Marketeer events are held on Saturdays; kids of every background receive a postcard in the mail in the month of their birthday, which they can bring to the market to get a 5.00 token to spend and also come on the first Saturday of every month for a Marketeer event. The goodie bag the 2011 schoolkids will receive in their initial visit also contains an incentive for the parent to receive tokens when they come with their child to the Marketeer event.
We can measure the success in a number of ways:
1. The change in their knowledge from the Bean Survey (questions like have you ever met a farmer? have you ever tasted a Louisiana strawberry?) to after their market visit.
2. The number of bags we hand out with a pint of strawberries and the information.
3. The number that join our Marketeers club.
4. The number of parental incentives used.
This is a Department of Agriculture and Forestry grant through their Specialty Crop Grants; we are lucky to have such great partners that are interested in using their department to add knowledge about Louisiana specialty crops to the next generation of shoppers.
These are early days for this project so very little as far as outcomes can be shared yet. I will be updating its success here and am happy to talk via email (please direct questions to me so our market staff do not have more work from my sharing!)
How exciting to share my colleagues excellent work.
CCFM Director of Markets uses the mesh map for a market lesson on geography
CCFM Director of Market takes questions from the John Dibert schoolkids on Scavenger Hunt Day at CCFM
Board and staff at marketumbrella.org work with John Dibert kids on the Scavenger Hunt day at CCFM