WIC Teams with Farmer's Markets. I'm Greg Martin with today's Line On Agriculture.
Making fresh fruits and vegetables accessible for everyone has been a bit of a challenge but a few years ago the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program was created as way to get those fresh foods into peoples hands and benefit farmers as well. Annie Goodwin, WIC coordinator with the Benton-Franklin Health District, one of the original pilot sites talks about how the program works.
GOODWIN: The clients receive checks or coupons and they're in $2 increments and they're able to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from vendors at the farmer's market. It has to be an authorized farmer's market and the farmer's do a contract with the state WIC program to be able to accept them and the clients don't get change back or anything and the vendors are so good about putting things in $2, $4 amounts.
The program was started in 1989 and Goodwin says from the beginning it has been well received by both the WIC clients and the farmers.
GOODWIN: It has just been a wonderful win-win project because the money goes directly to farmers, the food goes directly to the client and everyone gets the benefit of the wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables we have in Washington State.
Producers who are interested in joining in the program can get information online or at your local farmer's market.
GOODWIN: If you are participating in one of the farmer's markets that market manager will have the information for you to do the contract with the state Department of Health WIC program. Its fresh fruits and vegetables and cut herbs. So some of the vendors that might be selling honey or meat or cut flowers, those don't fit the bill. But its any of the fresh fruits and vegetables.
Goodwin says that most of the state is now involved and the program has even been expanding.
GOODWIN: It's finally expanded to almost all of the counties of the state. There have been a number of counties that didn't have farmer's markets and one of the new things this year is they've added what they're calling a "farm store." Those are farmers who have stands at their farms, the number of farmers that you can just go to their farm and buy their produce at the farm. One of the things that we do when we first started we gave the checks out in the office and told the client to go to the market. And we were only running a 60 or 70% redemption rate. About 4 years ago we started going to the market and telling our clients to come to the market to get their checks and we're running close to a 90% redemption right now.
That's today's Line On Agriculture. I'm Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network.