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.
Eligibility Criteria for WIC or Senior Coupons
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. The coupons are distributed in early summer and must be redeemed by October 31st of that year.
WIC participants receive these nutrition benefits in the summer 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.
To find out if you are eligible for WIC assistance, click here.
Massachusetts farmers' market coupons are also distributed to low-income elders in the summer. Massachusetts also serves low-income seniors who are unable to use the coupons due to access limitations by facilitating bulk purchasing of fruits and vegetables that are distributed to home bound elders with their regularly scheduled meals deliveries, or distributed at on-site meal programs.
To find the agency in your area which has farmers' market coupons for seniors, contact the Elderly Nutrition Program which serves your community, click here. Eligibility Guidelines for the Seniors Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, click here.
Information for Farmers and Market Managers
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.
How to become certified to accept Farmers Market Nutrition Coupons
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. Click here to review the 2016 guidelines.
Coupons cannot be accepted or redeemed prior to training and signing an annual agreement. If you are a returning farmer, you will receive an agreement form by mail in the spring. If you are a new farmer, contact Rebecca Davidson to receive training and to become certified.
Click here to download the list of Market ID numbers. This list is updated periodically. Please contact Rebecca Davidson if you have any questions, or if your market is not listed.