WIC Families Can Now Get Vouchers for Farmers Market Purchases / Public News Service

An average of 1.7 million WIC participants receive Farmers Market Nutrition Program benefits each year. (Adobe Stock)

An average of 1.7 million WIC participants receive Farmers Market Nutrition Program benefits each year. (Adobe Stock)

 By Eric Galatas – Producer, Contact

June 30, 2021

DENVER — Participants in WIC, the federal nutrition assistance program for women, infants, and children, can now get vouchers to buy food at farmers markets across Colorado.

Starting July 1, WIC-eligible families will be able to get locally grown fruits and vegetables, and meet farmers, who frequently have cost-effective recipes for preparing what they grow.

Amy Nelms, healthy food incentive senior program and policy manager for Nourish Colorado, said the vouchers also open the door to a host of resources available at local markets that have evolved far beyond simple food stands.

“Kids activities, mobile food pantries, screenings for health,” Nelms outlined. “Some of them do single dad, single mom days. And they’re really offering resources for health and a space to connect with the community.”

This year marks the first time Colorado is part of the federally funded Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

Families can find out if they are eligible for WIC, and collect farmer’s market vouchers, on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website and contacting their local public-health office.

Nelms sees food as a cornerstone of health care. Fresh, nutritious foods can boost the immune system and have long-term health benefits.

She added any concerns about food assistance programs keeping people from re-entering the workforce are off the mark, because most Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and WIC participants who are able to work already have jobs.

“Most of the families that use these incentive programs, they are using them as a stepping stone,” Nelms observed. “And the average amount of time anyone’s using them is about 18 months. So, they’re not these long-term programs that people use forever.”

She added food incentive programs, including produce boxes, were critical for families and local farmers in the COVID health emergency, when Colorado saw a 61% increase in people signing up for SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.

There’s also the Double Up Food Bucks program for SNAP participants in Colorado, in which farmers markets and grocery stores match locally produced fruit and vegetable purchases, dollar for dollar.

Disclosure: Nourish Colorado contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Social Justice, and Sustainable Agriculture. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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