MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - Thanks to a grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the MARESA PE-Nut Expansion Project (P.E.P.) has a new addition to its program, currently in nine Marquette County elementary schools.
"We have two goals - one is to increase fruit and veggies consumption in students and also increase physical activity," says Rachel Sabin, a MARESA nutrition educator.
The newest addition to P.E.P. helps with that first goal. It's called the “Healthy Hero” punch card. With the card, four-year-olds and their families get a punch card to take into five participating grocery stores to pick out a free piece of produce once a month. The participating grocery stores are Tadych’s Econo Foods of Marquette, Super One Foods of Negaunee, Jubilee Foods of Ishpeming U.S. 41, Larry’s Family Foods of Gwinn, and Family Fare of Munising.
"If they're eating the food at the store, they can turn to the adult that they're with and be like 'Hey, can we get a whole bag of apples?' if they like the apple, or, 'Hey can we get some more bananas because that tasted really good,' so it's just a good segue to eating healthy at home starting right here at the grocery store," states Sabin.
If participants get at least one free piece of produce, they can take their punched card to their daycare, elementary school or straight to MARESA's offices to be entered into a drawing for five $100 gift cards to one of the participating grocery stores.
“Healthy Heroes is great because it really makes the healthy choice, the easy choice," proclaims Sabin.
The power punch card expires on Feb. 28. Gift card winners will be notified in March.