April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, an opportunity to appreciate the ways we work together to keep families strong. Everyone has a role to play in making sure that our community is a great place for children and youth to thrive. Whether acting as a caring neighbor, a family member, a parent, or coworker, we can prevent child abuse and neglect by helping parents be the best they can be. There are seven wellness practices shown to reduce stress and strengthen resilience. This week we are focused on balanced nutrition, a stress-busting strategy that is good for the whole family.
Lompoc Nutritional Outreach Program
In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month and this week’s theme of Balanced Nutrition, we are highlighting an exciting new collaboration with Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization (LVCHO), Lompoc Family YMCA, and Route One Farmers Market. Using new funding from the Network of Care Buffering Services grant, LVCHO and Route One Farmers Market will be able to expand implementation of their nutritional outreach program across the Lompoc community. This program was piloted by Route One Farmers Market in 2019 as POP (Power of Produce), providing kids with lessons on where their food comes from and how to make healthy eating choices. Due to the positive response from the kids, the partners decided to use this new funding towards expanding this outreach program across all Lompoc YMCA after school sites.
With support from Santa Barbara County’s Network of Care, staff are now able to deliver the nutrition program with a new understanding about trauma and how children’s early experiences can affect their learning. The program includes seasonal classes and lessons that follow along with a food-related book while also giving kids opportunities to try the fruits and vegetables they are reading about. This nontraditional teaching method incorporates multiple learning styles, allowing each unique child to connect to the curriculum in their own way. Along with the lesson plan, kids receive a produce bag along with healthy recipe cards and farmer’s market vouchers, giving them the opportunity to go out and buy their own fruits and vegetables. This empowers kids to make their own choices and even helps bring together families, as kids are excited to bring their siblings and parents to the farmers market with them.
Mobile Farmers Market
In addition to the expanded POP program, the community will also see the launch of the new Lompoc Mobile Farmers Market provided by Route One Farmers Market and will be the first mobile market in Santa Barbara County. This mobile market will roam the streets in approximately six weeks, allowing fresh local produce to reach more members of the community and provide opportunities for community engagement and education. This increased access to local foods builds community resiliency in multiple facets by benefiting the local economy, reducing transportation emissions, and supporting local farmers and agricultural workers. Lompoc is a very rural community that grows a significant amount of produce, but the majority is shipped out and isn’t available to the community. This mobile market will hopefully bridge this gap and connect families, children and individuals to produce they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
The POP program and the mobile market are tangible programs that strengthen resilience and reduce the effects of trauma and toxic stress by promoting increased access to balanced nutrition. When children and families make their own healthy choices, whether that be in the lunch line at school, or deciding what to put on their plate, their brains and bodies benefit. The pilot program has already been a big success, and children are excited to be participating. Overall, Resilient Santa Barbara County is looking forward to seeing how this program develops and can’t wait for the mobile market to be wandering the streets of Lompoc!
Visiting the Farmers Market
If you are interested in visiting Route One’s Farmers Market, you can find it in Vandenberg Village on Sundays at 3745 Constellation Road from 10am-2pm. Trauma Informed educational lessons about navigating the market are provided from 11am-1pm through June, 2022. The mobile market will make various stops once up and running, including various YMCA sites and the Lompoc Health Care Center .
To find more information about LVCHO, click here.
To find more information about the Lompoc YMCA and its various programs, click here.