State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball and Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker today announced a new opportunity for farm stands across New York to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for families participating in the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Thanks to changes in federal regulations, and a new Memorandum of Understanding between the State Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture and Markets, individual farm stands will, for the first time ever, be able to join traditional farmers’ markets and participate in the federal WIC program during the 2015 season.
“Hundreds of farmers at traditional farmers’ markets already participate in the WIC Vegetables and Fruits Check program, and this new innovation will allow individual farm stands to reach a new audience with world class, locally-produced fruits and vegetables,” said Commissioner Ball. “Farm stands have flexible hours and can provide other opportunities such as ‘pick your own’ operations for WIC families.”
“The WIC program ensures that mothers and their young children have access to the food and resources essential to healthy living,” said acting New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “This partnership gives more families the ability to eat well, and enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables straight from the farm.”
The State Department of Health (DOH) recently announced that children, and pregnant or breastfeeding women participating in WIC will receive an increase in the amount of fruit and vegetables that they can purchase each month. Through federal funds, WIC currently provides $8 per month for children and $10 per month for women to purchase fruits and vegetables of their choice. Beginning in March 2015, DOH will use state funds to increase the benefit by $4 per check per month through September 2015.
At farm stands, vouchers may be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers. New York was one of the first states to certify farmers as WIC vendors beginning with training sessions in January of 2009. In 2014, farmers at farmers’ markets sold over $50,000 in fresh produce to WIC families.
Farmers operating farm stands who are interested in becoming authorized to participate in the WIC Vegetables and Fruits Check program can obtain information by visiting the Department of Agriculture and Markets’ WIC Vegetables and Fruits Check program webpage and registering for an upcoming farmer training webinar at: http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/