The WIC Farmers Market Program, also known as WIC FMNP, is a great asset for low income families who need extra food assistance. This program provides extra vouchers to low income families so that they can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers.
In this article, we will discuss what this program is, how it works, where you can use those vouchers and how you can even double their value at certain participating markets!
What is WIC FMNP?
The WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program is a small part of the larger WIC program, which provides nutritious food supplements for pregnant and postpartum women and children under five years old.
The program provides coupons or vouchers that can be redeemed for fresh fruits and vegetables at local farms, farm stands, and roadside stands that have been approved by the state to accept WIC coupons. Please see the guidance below to learn where you can use your WIC farmers market vouchers.
Who is eligible for the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program?
Although each state has control over their own program, the federal guidelines explain that you may be eligible for the WIC Farmers Market program if meet the following guidelines:
- You are currently receiving WIC benefits or on a waitlist for WIC certification.
- You live in a participating state, territory or Washington DC.
- You are a woman or a child between the ages of 4 months and 5 years old.
Infants under 4 months old do not qualify for the WIC FMNP program.
The FMNP expansion is currently available in 49 states and Washington DC. The only state that does not participate is Hawaii. However, the program is also available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and in Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation, Osage Nation, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaws, the Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos and the Pueblos of San Felipe.
How does the WIC Farmers Market program work?
The program is fairly straightforward. The federal government gives money to the states to fund this program. The states distribute the money in the form of coupons or vouchers to low income families who are currently receiving WIC benefits.
When you receive your coupon, you can take it to any participating farm, farmers market or roadside farm stand to get your fruits and vegetables. You will be able to choose what fruits and vegetables you want to buy, so you aren’t stuck with foods your family will not eat.
Some states also include a nutrition education program with this program. Through these programs, you may be able to receive nutrition education and cooking classes that can help you select, store, and prepare the fresh produce you purchase with these vouchers.
What can you buy with the WIC Farmers Market program?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, you can buy the following items with your WIC Farmers Market vouchers:
The items you purchase through this program must be fresh, nutritious, and unprepared. For example, you can buy fresh strawberries but not strawberry jam. The produce must be fresh when you purchase it, although you can turn it into jam or prepare it however you like when you get home.
The program is also designed to focus on locally grown produce. The USDA defines locally grown as produce that was grown within your state borders or sometimes within neighboring states.
If you have specific questions about a product, the seller should be able to indicate which items are eligible for this program.
How much will I get from the WIC Farmers Market program?
Federal regulations state that coupons provided by this program are valued between $10 and $30 per year. However, there are some ways that you can get more than that.
Some states supplement the program with state funds, which increase the amount of the vouchers. For example, the Washington Department of Health states that households can receive up to $84 per family through this program.
Even if you receive the minimum, you may be able to double the value of your FMNP coupons if you shop at a Double Up location, as described below.
When will I get my WIC Farmers Market coupons?
Because this program is designed to work at farmers markets, the coupons are usually made available at the peak of market season. Most states that I researched begin distributing those vouchers on June 1st.
If you haven’t received your vouchers by mid-June, I strongly recommend that you contact your local WIC clinic to see if those Farmers Market benefits are available. Sometimes, they are not sent automatically and you have to ask for them.
Where can I use my WIC Farmers Market vouchers?
In 2020, there were nearly 20,000 locations that accepted WIC Farmers Market vouchers. These locations included farms, farm stands and farmers markets in 49 states and additional territories.
Because those markets are approved by state governments and the approvals are ever-changing, there is no cohesive nationwide list available. However, many states including California and New York offer a market list where you can quickly identify locations that accept FMNP vouchers.
Don’t forget to Double Up!
When you are going to use your WIC Farmers Market vouchers, I strongly recommend that you choose a market or farm stand that participates in your local Double Up Food Bucks program.
When you shop at a Double Up location, you can literally double the value of your food benefits. You will get twice as much produce as you pay for. That means that your $30 voucher would be worth $60 at a participating market. It’s a great way to get more food for your family.
Although many Double Up locations focus on SNAP benefits, there are many that accept FMNP or even SFMNP vouchers as well. We have done our best to mark the FMNP-accepting locations in our directory.
You can find the best places to use your WIC Farmers Market vouchers in our Double Up directory.
How do I use WIC at a Farmers Market?
Using your WIC vouchers at a Farmers Market is easy! The hardest part is finding the right market and the right vendor to accept your payments.
However, once you’ve found what you want to buy, all you have to do is present the coupon to the vendor as payment. Easy peasy!
FAQs about FMNP
Can I use WIC at a farmers market?
If you get WIC benefits, you can also get annual Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers that can be used at participating farmers markets. Read our article to discover how you can double those benefits at certain markets!