Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables (JSY) was created to implement the New York State Department of Health's (DOH) obesity prevention strategies in the emergency food network using the following nutrition and physical activity messages:
• Increase consumption of vegetables and fruits
• Increase consumption of low-fat or fat-free milk, for children over age 2
• Increase developmentally appropriate physical activity
• Decrease exposure to television and other recreational screen time
• Increase the initiation and duration of exclusive breastfeeding
In response, the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP) conducted focus groups and market research with food pantry clients to determine what type of program would help them consume healthier foods. It was determined that fruit and vegetable consumption rates were extremely low among this targeted population and that awareness on the need to consume fruits and vegetables, as well as tips on buying, storing and preparing fruits and vegetables through food demonstrations would be most helpful and meaningful to the clients. The name "Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables" was created and funding was obtained from USDA in 1997.
In 1998, four nutritionists were hired to provide nutrition education in food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Onondaga and New York counties. By 2001, JSY nutrition education services expanded into every county of New York State, including the five boroughs of New York City. Program staff doubled and eight nutritionists were hired to provide nutrition education in every food bank region in New York!
To further meet the overwhelming need for nutrition education services in NYC, the NYS DOH began collaborating with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Physical Activity and Nutrition Program to implement the JSY curriculum at farmers' markets in low-income areas throughout NYC. The initiative, known as Stellar Farmers' Markets, began delivering SNAP-Ed in July 2009. For more information please visit the Stellar Farmers' Markets website.
Stellar Farmers' Markets was recently featured in the New York Times Real Estate Section! See the photo on the New York Times website!