Purdue Extension’s FoodLink is now available for shoppers at more than 100 grocery stores, farmers markets, food pantries and roadside produce stands throughout Indiana. FoodLink is an online hub that provides information about healthy foods including recipes, nutritional information and preparation suggestions.
Vendors present cards with QR codes for their fruits and vegetables that customers can scan with a smartphone, directing the user to the FoodLink website. The site displays resources such as how-to videos, photos and safety tips in addition to nutritional facts. The website is free to shoppers and does not require registration.
"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."
This resource for healthy foods has also been utilized by the state Women, infants and Children program. The organization provides members with vouchers to buy healthy foods at FoodLink vendors. The program has financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Indiana State Department of Agriculture.
"We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of vendors signing up," Ballard 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 FoodLink website is frequently updated with information and resources that are reviewed by licensed nutritionists.