Shoppers at more than 100 farmers markets, grocery stores, food pantries and roadside produce stands throughout Indiana can now connect with FoodLink, Purdue Extension's online hub for information about healthy foods.
Participating vendors display cards with QR codes for more than 40 fruits and vegetables. Consumers can use the QR reader on their smartphones to scan the codes for immediate access to the FoodLink website, which provides selection and preparation suggestions, recipes, nutritional information, how-to videos, photos, food safety tips and other resources. No registration is necessary to use the website, and the service is free.
"It is a really quick, convenient way to provide healthy eating options for your family," said Roy Ballard, Purdue Extension educator and one of the program administrators. "If you have a question about the health benefits of a certain fruit or vegetable, or how to prepare it, all the information you need is just a click away."
All information posted on the FoodLink website is created and reviewed by licensed nutritionists. The site is regularly updated with new resources.
Ballard said the initiative has been well received throughout the state.
"We've been overwhelmed by the number of vendors signing up," he said. "We've also had teachers and nutritionists asking to use FoodLink materials for educational purposes. It began as a consumer-focused effort, but people are finding new and creative ways to get involved and spread the word about good nutrition."
The state Women, Infants and Children program, commonly known as WIC, is providing vouchers for its participants to buy healthy fruits and vegetables at FoodLink vendors. Financial support has been provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Indiana State Department of Agriculture.
"Our partners have been tremendously supportive, and thanks to their efforts we are looking forward to continuing to grow the program," Ballard said.
To access the FoodLink website, go to https://extension.purdue.edu/foodlink/. Vendors, educators, nutritionists, food suppliers, farmers or anyone else interested in becoming FoodLink members can contact Ballard at 317-462-1113, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visitors to the 2016 Indiana State Fair can get more information about FoodLink in the Purdue Extension Ag/Hort Building on the west side of the fairgrounds near the midway. Information will also be available at the Indiana State Department of Agriculture displays in the Ag/Hort Building and Bicentennial Pavilion.