United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region

ONE MISSION THAT UNITES US ALL

Tag: Battle Creek

Youth Day of Caring 2013

by Kellie Cochrane

YDOC blog

On Friday April, 26, nearly 500 students from across Battle Creek reported to Full Blast Water Park where they headed into the community for a day of volunteering.  The effort is an annual United Way HandsOn event during national volunteer week called Youth Day of Caring.  This year’s event was the largest yet, with more students and agencies participating than ever before.

Youth Day of Caring brings together students from all of the area schools for both the planning and the execution of the event.  A committee of students, with representation from each school, starts meeting in the winter to plan everything from a venue to approving the projects.  Nonprofit agencies across Calhoun County provide volunteering opportunities, and also give tours of their site and explain their organization’s mission to the students.

Projects include a wide range of activities, from landscaping to reading to children, the students are all assigned to projects that allow them to give back to their community.  Students are assigned to the projects at random, so they’re able to meet and mingle with students from different schools.  Each school provided staff members to help assist in supervision, and everyone pitched in and had a lot of fun.

After the projects were wrapped up, the students came back to Full Blast for lunch and to reflect on their day.  United Way President and CEO Mike Larson addressed the students to thank them for their hard work, telling them: “Whether you believe it or not, you’ve really made a difference in our community today.”

Students also heard from retired Col. Frank Walker, who spoke passionately about his love for the Battle Creek community and his pride in seeing the next generation step up to take care of it.  Before leaving for the day, students wrote down reflections from the day on Post-it Notes to post on the walls for everyone to see.  We were truly inspired by this group of young people who clearly know what it means to LIVE UNITED.

For more information or pictures from Youth Day of Caring, check out the Facebook page!

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Wellness Wednesday: Local Produce Makes a Difference for Low Income Families

by Kellie Cochrane

Randi Dale and her daughter, Cheyenne Ruddock, 15, of Battle Creek buy produce using Double Up Food Bucks
Photo Credit: Battle Creek Enquirer

I love a trip to the Farmers Market.  I love fruit, I love veggies and I love an excuse to walk around and enjoy the summer.  And of course, it certainly feels great to support our locally grown products.    Now, the Battle Creek Enquirer has given me yet another reason to love Farmers Markets: increased access to healthy, local food.

Battle Creek has stepped up to participate in the Double Up Food Bucks Program which allows low income families who rely on the assistance of Bridge Cards or other food assistance programs to receive tokens to be used at the Farmers Market.  These tokens literally double their dollars all the way up to a $20 dollar value for Michigan produce.

Participants claim this program has really impacted the way they shop, allowing them to choose foods that are both nutritious and delicious.  Vendors see the difference too, one estimates that the DUFB shoppers are 40% of their revenue.  This program creates amazing change on both sides: families gain access to produce they might not otherwise be able to get and vendors benefit from increased revenue and more shoppers at the market.

The Double Up Food Bucks Program is an initiative allowing for positive change for the health of our community and stimulating economic growth.  Kalamazoo Farmers Market also accepts EBT and WIC benefits and offers a Project Fresh program.  So, brave the heat and plan a trip to your local Farmer’s Market because the products aren’t the only good that is happening there.