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Learn About the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, commonly known as the WIC FMNP, is a subprogram of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). It was created to further the WIC program’s mission of providing healthy, wholesome foods and nutrition education to low-income women, infants and toddlers who lack the proper nutrients. These women include breastfeeding women, pregnant women and women who are postpartum. More specifically, the WIC program receives funding from the government to provide supplemental foods and health care referrals to its recipients.
Among these supplemental foods are nutritious fruits and vegetables that beneficiaries may purchase with FMNP vouchers from local farms, farmers markets and roadside stands. Even though it is funded by the federal government, different state agencies administer the program. Once beneficiaries are accepted into the WIC program, the process of receiving FMNP vouchers is fairly simple. Review the following sections to learn more about the program and the types of foods recipients can gain access to.
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What is the WIC FMNP program?
The WIC FMNP program serves to improve the health of women and children who may not have access to nourishing foods and have inadequate diets. It encourages the sale of fresh produce at local farms, farmers’ markets and roadside stands by issuing FMNP vouchers to qualifying individuals. A farmers market consists of an assembly of farmers who gather under an association to directly sell their local produce to consumers in the area. FMNP vouchers are typically distributed by priority based on which applicants are considered to be at the highest nutritional risk. These vouchers can be used to purchase a variety of foods at participating locations. Not only will recipients receive access to fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs, but the program provides nutrition education and resources to encourage the consumption of these foods.
How does the WIC FMNP program operate by state?
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agency, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a majority of the funding to each state department handling the FMNP program. While the FNS agency covers the complete cost of food benefits allocated to qualifying households, states are required to come up with a small portion of administrative costs. These state departments may include state health departments and state agriculture departments. While the federal government still provides a majority of funding for the WIC FMNP program, state agencies are responsible for operating and administering the program.
Since they implement the program, state agencies also have the option of allotting increased benefit amounts to their residents. They do this by increasing the federal farmers market program benefit maximums by using funds from state, local and private agencies. Once these farmers market nutrition benefits are issued, WIC recipients can use them in place of cash to purchase certain foods at participating locations. State agencies authorize certain farmers markets and roadside stands to accept FMNP vouchers. These markets and roadside stands then take the checks or coupons they receive and deposit them into the bank or submit them to the appropriate state department for reimbursement.
Learn About Requirements for FMNP Benefits
To receive FMNP benefits, you must be a woman, child or infant older than four months. To receive senior FMNP benefits, you must be a senior who meets the age requirement determined by your state. Additionally, not all states have a program for seniors the same way not all states administer the program for WIC recipients. If you would like to receive WIC FMNP benefits, you must meet WIC eligibility requirements or be on the waiting list for certification. This includes being a pregnant woman, a breastfeeding woman, an infant or a child younger than five years of age.
Furthermore, you must be living in a low-income household with an income that falls within a certain percentage of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). If you already receive assistance from government programs in your state, chances are you will qualify for WIC FMNP coupons. However, you must also be defined as being at nutritional risk by a qualifying nurse, physician or nutritionist to receive FMNP vouchers. This may include being underweight or having a history of miscarriages. To determine your eligibility, you may receive a free health screening through the WIC program.
What foods can you purchase with WIC FMNP?
FMNP vouchers can be used to purchase a variety of nutritious foods locally grown in your state or near your state borders. Some states have lists of foods that you can and cannot purchase with your farmers market coupons. Generally, the foods on the approved lists are fresh, unprepared fruits, vegetables and herbs. Additionally, there are foods that you will not be able to purchase with FMNP coupons, such as processed foods. The WIC FMNP program provides educational resources to teach you how to store and prepare these foods. You may also receive access to healthy recipes for you and your family to enjoy.
How do you receive FMNP vouchers?
You may receive FMNP vouchers through the appropriate state agency administering the WIC FMNP program in your state. The program typically opens once every year and issues coupons over the span of a couple of months. While they are generally administered on a first-come, first-served basis, states also take into account which recipients are at the most nutritional risk. Depending on their situation, applicants may receive FMNP coupons right away or be put on a waitlist.
Check with your State agency to see when and where you can obtain your vouchers. Keep in mind that if you are not already a WIC recipient, you must apply for the WIC program before receiving FMNP benefits. You will need to call your state department to make a WIC FMNP appointment to complete the application process.
Who may accept and redeem FMNP coupons?
The majority of states, U.S. Territories and Indian Tribal Organizations have agencies that administer the WIC FMNP program. These agencies choose and authorize certain farmers’ markets and roadside stands to accept and redeem FMNP coupons. You can find an FMNP-approved location in your area by visiting your state agency’s website. Most State agencies have documents listing FMNP locations. Additionally, you may notice a WIC authorization sign outside your local farmers’ market window or ask an employee if FMNP vouchers are accepted the next time you visit.