The Massachusetts Farmers' Market Nutrition Program provides elders, and women and children in the Federal Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) with coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables redeemable at Farmers' Markets.
WIC participants receive these nutrition benefits in addition to the regular WIC food package. Local farmers are reimbursed for the face value of the coupons, thereby enhancing earnings and supporting participation in Farmers' Markets.
Participation in the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program benefits farmers by attracting a new base of customers to Farmers' Markets, thereby providing additional sales opportunities to participating farmers, allows farmers to capture a greater share of the consumer food dollar through direct marketing, and promotes diversification on small farms by encouraging the production of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables.
Farmer participation in the program benefits coupon recipients as well. It provides participants with coupons redeemable for nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables, introduces families and others to Farmers' Markets, and supports nutrition education goals by encouraging the selection and preparation of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Farmers' Market Nutrition Program Certification for Farmers and Market Managers
Any farmer participating at an approved farmers market may request certification to participate in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program. Certification involves discussing the regulations for the program, as well as procedures for receiving payment for redeemed coupons. To become certified, contact Lisa Damon at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources at 617-626-1731, Lisa.Damon@state.ma.us.
Coupons cannot be accepted or redeemed prior to training and signing an agreement.
Growers and market managers returning to the coupon program do not need to attend a training session. Recertification for returning growers and managers will be conducted through the mail.
The Farmers Market Coupon Program began in Massachusetts in 1986, and in 1989, Congress authorized a three-year demonstration project to test the concept in ten states. The success of the demonstration projects led Congress to enact the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Act of 1992, thereby establishing it as the 14th Federal food assistance program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since that time, the number of states participating in the program has grown significantly.
Funding for the Program is provided by the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service with an additional required state match.
Massachusetts farmers' market coupons are distributed to women and children in the WIC Program, as well as eligible seniors and other individuals.
• To find out if you are eligible for WIC assistance, click here.
• For more information on Elderly Nutrition Programs in your area or town, click here.