Walk for Veggies: Exercise Pays at Neighborhood Center’s Market Walks

With four growing children and a husband to feed, Lansing resident Khadija Ahmed goes through food fast.

So when she heard about the Allen Neighborhood Center’s Market Walk program, it didn’t take much to convince her to give it a try. Participants who take part in the program earn tokens to use at the Allen Street Farmers Market in exchange for miles walked. The first five miles are worth ten dollars, with each additional five miles worth five dollars. Tokens can be used to buy fruits and vegetables available at the Wednesday afternoon Farmers Market.

Ahmed said between her miles and her children’s miles, they’re able to use their tokens to pay for two full boxes of vegetables every week. She and her kids regularly put in five miles or more at each of three scheduled walks throughout the week.

“We’re putting in around 15 miles per week each, so I see a lot of change in myself and I see a lot of change in the children,” she said.

Khadija and family
Khadija Ahmed and her children on a recent walk. (Courtesy photo)

Previously, Ahmed was trying to work out at the gym, but the proximity of the walking locations to her house have made the program her go-to form of exercise. She said it’s great that it’s something she can do with her children, so she doesn’t have to worry about daycare to go to the gym. She estimates that the family has walked about 500 total miles this summer.

The veggie boxes she picks up at the market are part of a community supported agriculture (CSA) program, so she never knows what she’ll get each week. Recipe suggestions from Lansing Roots Farm help her use some of the more unusual vegetables. Her kids haven’t loved everything she’s made with the vegetables, but she said it’s been a great learning experience in trying new things and teaching her kids to be appreciative and thankful for what they do have to eat.

Tyler Berg is the AmeriCorps member who runs the Market Walk program. He said 219 people have signed up to participate since April and more than $2,715 worth of tokens have been given to participants. As far as he knows, the program is one-of-a-kind.

“The basic idea behind the Market Walk is to encourage healthy eating and exercise among neighbors of the Eastside, although residency in the Eastside is not a requirement for participation,” Berg said. “There have been a number of iterations of the walk since 2009, but the present and most successful form began last year.”

Residents can also “walk it forward” if they prefer. People who want to walk, but don’t plan to collect tokens can designate another person to receive them.

Would you walk for veggies? Tell us what inspires you to work out in the comments. 

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Photo credit: A Healthier Michigan

 

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