What is the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program?
The WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is associated with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, popularly known as WIC. The WIC Program provides supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education at no cost to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding post-partum women, and to infants and children up to 5 years of age, who are found to be at nutritional risk.
The FMNP was established by Congress in 1992, to provide fresh, unprepared, locally grown fruits and vegetables to WIC participants, and to expand the awareness, use of, and sales at farmers’ markets.
WIC FMNP Fact Sheet, in pdf format.
Where does the FMNP operate?
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, grants were awarded to 46 State agencies and federally recognized Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs): District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and 36 States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. In addition, 6 ITOs administer the Program: Chickasaw, Oklahoma; Choctaw Nation, Oklahoma; Osage Nation, Oklahoma; the Mississippi Band of Choctaws; the Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos, New Mexico; and the Pueblos of San Felipe, New Mexico.
Who can participate?
Women, infants (over 4 months old) and children that have been certified to receive WIC program benefits or who are on a waiting list for WIC certification are eligible to participate in the FMNP. State agencies may serve some or all of these categories.
How many recipients are served?
In fiscal year 2013, 1.5 million WIC participants received FMNP benefits.
What foods are available through the FMNP?
A variety of fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs may be purchased with FMNP coupons. State agencies can limit sales to specific foods grown within State borders to encourage FMNP recipients to support the farmers in their own States.
How does the program operate?
The FMNP is administered through a Federal/State partnership in which the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provides cash grants to State agencies. The FMNP is administered by State agencies such as State agriculture departments or health departments or ITOs. As a prerequisite to receiving Federal funds for the FMNP, each applying or participating State agency must submit a State Plan describing the manner in which the State agency intends to implement, operate and administer all aspects of the FMNP within its jurisdiction.
Eligible WIC participants are issued FMNP coupons in addition to their regular WIC benefits. These coupons can be used to buy eligible foods from farmers, farmers' markets or roadside stands that have been approved by the State agency to accept FMNP coupons. The farmers, farmers’ markets or roadside stands then submit the coupons to the bank or State agency for reimbursement. The Federal food benefit level for FMNP recipients may not be less than $10 and no more than $30 per year, per recipient. However, State agencies may supplement the Federal benefit level.
Nutrition education is provided to FMNP recipients by the State agency, often through an arrangement with the local WIC agency. Other program partners may provide nutrition education and/or educational information to FMNP recipients. For example, Cooperative Extension Programs, local chefs, farmers or farmers’ markets associations, and various other non-profit or for-profit organizations may provide nutrition education to FMNP recipients. These educational arrangements help encourage FMNP recipients to improve and expand their diets by adding fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as educate them on how to select, store and prepare the fresh fruits and vegetables they buy with their FMNP coupons.
How does a farmer, farmers' market, or roadside stand become authorized to accept FMNP coupons?
Each State agency is responsible for authorizing individual farmers, farmers’ markets, roadside stands or all of the above. Only farmers, farmers’ markets, and roadside stands authorized by the State agency may accept and redeem FMNP coupons. Individuals who exclusively sell produce grown by someone else such as wholesale distributors, cannot be authorized to participate in the FMNP. The FMNP contact person for each State agency can be found at http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/Contacts/farm.htm
How many farmers and farmers' markets participate in the FMNP?
During fiscal year 2013, 17,713 farmers, 3,322 farmers' markets and 2,758 roadside stands were authorized to accept FMNP coupons. Coupons redeemed through the FMNP resulted in over $13.2 million in revenue to farmers for fiscal year 2013.
How is the FMNP funded?
Congress provides funds for the FMNP. Federal funds support 100 percent of the food costs of the program. Federal funds also support 70 percent of the administrative cost of the program. States operating the FMNP must match the Federal administrative funds allocated to them for administrative costs by contributing at least 30 percent of the administrative cost of the program. Indian State agencies may provide a lower match, but not less than 10 percent of the administrative cost of the program. The matching funds can come from a variety of sources, such as State or local funds, private funds, similar programs, or program income.
What is the current funding level?
For fiscal year 2014, $16.548 million was appropriated by Congress for the FMNP.