Why Family Markets Work

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If you visit Bren Mar Park Elementary in Alexandria, VA, you’ll find an assorted blend of culture, personality and community, and so it’s no surprise that when there’s a need in their community, school leadership steps up to the challenge.

This year, Bren Mar did just that by hosting a winter clothing drive and a Family Market offering families in need quality clothing and food.  The staff was incredibly helpful and organized. Check out this video produced by Fairfax County Public Schools.

The Capital Area Food Bank sponsors the monthly Family Market by providing food.

Parents choose what they need and what they will use and bring it home to feed their families.

Family Markets provide fresh produce and pantry items once a month to 1,500 families with school-aged children.

Smoothie Bike!

For the first time at a Family Market event, we offered students at Bren Mar the added bonus of trying out our popular Smoothie Bike. bike shadow

With it, the 50-60 students in attendance learned how making healthy snacks is not only easy, but fun, too.

Kids got to measure out ingredients like pumpkin puree, ice cream and coconut and then hop on the Smoothie Bike and make a Pumpkin Smash Smoothie!

The goal is to have the Family Markets include more than just food — more and more often, they includes fun things that make it feel more like a market such as recipes, activities and other ways to spread the word about healthy eating.

The kids at Bren Mar followed this easy recipe.

“There was one little boy who was adorable,” says CAFB’s Michael Hollister, who was coordinating the event with me that day.

“After pedalling so hard to make the healthy smoothie, he tasted it, and loved it! He handed the cup to his mother and told her to try it. ‘You like it?’ She asked, incredulously. “He never likes anything that is healthy!’ She was thrilled to see her little boy enjoying a healthy smoothie that he had made himself, ” Michael says. 

As that same little boy left the Family Market with his mom, he stopped to show Michael and me one of the many healthy items he and his mom picked out: organic pumpkin puree!

We partner with local school districts to offer family markets at six area schools in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia where 50 per cent or more students qualify for free and reduced-price lunches, and with the program growing more and more exciting, we cannot wait till the next one!

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