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Henry Farmers Market touts healthy eating

The Henry County Farmers Market has developed a plan to enable the needy to eat fresh, nutritional foods, and they can purchase them with EBT cards, said Frank Hancock, agriculture and natural resource agent for the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Office in McDonough.

An EBT card is an electronic benefits transfer card used in the nation's foodstamp program.

"It enables the EBT customer to utilize their benefits at small, community farmers markets that were, prior to now, unacceptable," said Willie Torrey, manager for Georgia's new EBT Farmers Market Implementation Program, which is funded by the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hancock said the EBT program has allowed market organizers to acquire a terminal designed to process purchases with foodstamps.

On Thursday, as part of the effort to highlight use of the EBT cards, the market's McDonough location –– at Heritage Park –– will offer a number of cooking demonstrations, taste tests, and information on healthy eating and exercise, from 2 to 6 p.m.

Torrey said chefs will be on hand at the market, to give taste tests and demonstrations on "basic and innovative techniques for preparing fresh fruits and vegetables." Such lessons, he said, are essential in today's world.

"We're living in a time when cooking freshly prepared food is not as prevalent as it was two generations ago," said Torrey.

Lusi Martin, an intern from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, who is studying to be a registered dietitian, will assist in the demonstrations. She said the event will not only benefit customers at the market, but vendors as well.

"Apart from being healthy, it's also to support your local farmers," she said. "You want to know where your food is coming from, and the farmers market offers that."

Hancock said the market will offer an exercise challenge, on the day of the demonstrations, to bolster its mission of promoting good health.

"We'll give a free tomato to whoever jumps rope the most times in a row," Hancock said.

For more details, call the Extension Office at (770) 288-8421.