Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $3.4 million to help low-income Women, Infants and Children (WIC) increase their access to healthy, locally-grown food at farmers markets across the state. The funding will provide over 215,000 families with access to healthy food at 470 farmers markets. WIC families can find Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) checks at their local WIC clinic. New York operates the largest such program in the nation.
Farmers markets help pump money back into local economies while encouraging New Yorkers to support local agriculture and promote healthy eating, Governor Cuomo said. The WIC program connects low-income families with affordable, fresh and locally-grown food at farmers markets in their communities. Not only does this program help New Yorkers to eat better and healthier, it also expands the customer base for our local farmers and promotes New York-grown products.
FMNP check booklets are available for WIC families in June, July, August and September. The booklets each contain 6 checks with a face value of $4.00 each (a total of $24 once per season). WIC customers must have an income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty line, which depends on the number of people in the household. To be eligible for WIC, families must have children in the household younger than five. A family would also be eligible if the mom is pregnant or nursing.
The checks are used to purchase fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables from participating farmers at designated community farmers markets. WIC families may use these checks through November 30.
In many neighborhoods markets, the farmers who participate in the FMNP are an important source of scarcely available fresh fruits and vegetables. The FMNP facilitates interaction between farmers and WIC families while encouraging WIC families to try fruits and vegetables that they might not otherwise purchase.
Participating farmers must grow at least half of what they are selling at the market(s) and items that are purchased by the farmer for resale must be locally grown. Farmers may cash or deposit the FMNP checks just like any other check.
State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine said, Farmers markets stimulate local economies and provide New Yorkers with a venue to purchase farm fresh food right in their own backyards. We are pleased that Governor Cuomo has made this funding available to support these markets and local agriculture, while providing low-income New York families with an opportunity to buy some of the best agricultural products in the country.
New York State Health Commissioner, Nirav R. Shah M.D., M.P.H. said, "The foods provided through WIC are an important source of nutrients, which are often missing from the diets of women and young children. We commend Governor Cuomo for making farm-fresh food more accessible to WIC recipients while strengthening the connection between New York consumers and farmers across the state."
Michael Hurwitz, GrowNYCs Greenmarket Director said, This is an invaluable, win-win program that provides crucial revenue to upstate communities while expanding access to healthy food for low-income women, expecting parents and children.
The WIC/FMNP is administered by the Department of Agriculture and Markets in cooperation with the New York State Department of Health and Cornell Cooperative Extension.
For more information about the WIC program, please call 1-800-522-5006. To find a WIC clinic near you, please go to: www.health.ny.gov/prevention/nutrition/wic/local_agencies.htm.
For a list of participating farmers' markets, please go to www.agriculture.ny.gov.