After a successful first year in 2016, Purdue Extension’s FoodLink is serving up a full menu of new online resources to help consumers prepare convenient, healthy meals.
FoodLink is a free online information hub providing nutrition facts, recipes and purchasing tips for nearly 60 fruits, vegetables and herbs. This year, the website features 19 new foods and dozens of new recipes, said Roy Ballard, Purdue Extension-Hancock County educator and one of the program administrators.
“As we like to say, we do what Google can’t, and that is to bring all of this information into one place,” said Ballard. “Our goal is to make it easier for people to say ‘yes’ to good, fresh produce, and that also benefits the vendors, who will need to grow more and sell more to meet demand.”
In addition to new recipes, the website has expanded its collection of expert-reviewed publications on food safety, food preparation and successful shopping.
“One of the publications talks about how to shop at farmers markets,” Ballard said. “If you’ve never been to a farmers market, how do you shop there? This resource can help people have a more fun and successful trip, and make it something they want to do more than once.”
Participating vendors display cards containing the QR codes for the website’s fruits and vegetables at the point of purchase, in advertisements and marketing materials, and on packaging. Consumers can use the QR reader on their mobile devices to scan the codes for immediate access to the FoodLink website. Consumers can also access the website directly. No registration is necessary to use the website and the service is free.
FoodLink will continue to add new offerings over the summer, Ballard said.
“We are very excited about the changes coming up in the next few months. We plan to kick off a Facebook page, where people can exchange questions, tips and recipes and find participating farmers markets and vendors in their area,” he said. “This summer, customizable recipe cards will be available for each of the crops and there will be 12 seasonal recipe videos available for a variety of teaching and learning environments. We also plan to add more recipes to the website and to create new resources for consumers, teachers and community educators.”
Ballard and his team also hope to increase the number of local grocery stores that enroll in FoodLink, helping consumers make healthy choices in the store as well as at the farmers market.
“When people go to the store, every product has a label or a sign to help them choose the best option for them, except for produce,” Ballard said. “The fruits and vegetables might be fresh and attractively displayed, but someone who doesn’t know how to prepare them might not have the motivation to try them. We hope that by helping stores find ways to integrate our materials into their current marketing plans, we will help them boost their produce sales and help consumers make new, healthy choices for their families.”
For more information about FoodLink or to enroll as a vendor and receive a Fast Start kit, visit https://www.purdue.edu/foodlink/, or contact Ballard at 317-462-1113 or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.