WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program


Helping low-income mothers buy fruits and vegetables from local farmers

When low-income mothers have access to fresh local, produce, they can help their children to eat healthier and support family farmers with their purchasing power. The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) provides low-income pregnant and postpartum women with coupons or electronic benefits to buy fresh produce from authorized farmers and farmers markets. FMNP also teaches participants how to select, store, and prepare fresh produce to improve their families’ diets. The goal of the program is to increase participants’ consumption of healthy local produce and to expand awareness of and sales at farmers markets.

Learn More About FMNP:

Program Basics 

FMNP has been increasing low-income families’ access to farmers markets and investing federal dollars into local economies since 1992. The program operates through state agencies, who in turn authorize farmers, farmers markets, and roadside stands to accept coupons or electronic benefits. Authorized state agencies are also responsible for educating and disbursing benefits to low-income mothers. Mothers participating in the program may receive no less than $10 and no more than $30 per year, though state agencies may supplement the benefit levels with state, local, or private funds. A variety of fresh, unprocessed, and locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs may be purchased with FMNP funds.

As a prerequisite to receiving federal FMNP funds, each applying state agency must submit a plan describing the manner in which it intends to implement, operate, and administer all aspects of the program. To pay for the program, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) distributes cash grants to participating state agencies, which cover 100 percent of the food costs and 70 percent of the administrative costs. As a discretionary program, the federal funding level for FMNP is determined each year by Congress in the annual agricultural appropriations bill.

Eligibility

To accept FMNP benefits, individual farmers, farmers markets, and roadside stands must become authorized by state agencies (typically the state’s Department of Agriculture or Department of Public Health). Authorized vendors are selected based on WIC participants’ geographic concentration in the area and access to the marketplace. Vendors who exclusively sell produce grown by someone else, such as wholesale distributors, cannot be authorized.

Currently, 49 state agencies, U.S. Territories and federally recognized Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) receive grants to operate the FMNP.

The Program in Action

In fiscal year 2018 FMNP provided fresh produce to more than 1.7 million WIC families, resulting in over $19 million in income for nearly 17,000 small farmers.

FMNP successes (updated stories and data coming soon):

  • In 2013, 50 percent of Washington farmers interviewed reported that sales from FMNP are strong enough that the revenue from FMNP is a deciding factor in whether or not to participate in a specific farmers market.
  • According to an evaluation of Wisconsin’s FMNP in 2007, more than 6 in 10 WIC participants went to a farmers market for the first time after receiving their FMNP coupons.

Read more about how FMNP has increased farmers’ sales:

How to Apply and Program Resources

Interested farmers and farmers markets should contact their respective state agencies responsible for administering the WIC program within their state. A list of participating states’ administrating agencies and their coordinators’ contact information can be found on the FMNP Contacts list.

For more information on FMNP visit USDA’s WIC FMNP Website.

Program History, Funding, and Farm Bill Changes

Congress created FMNP in 1992 as a new provision within the Child Nutrition Act of 1966. As such, FMNP is revisited and reauthorized with other child nutrition programs approximately every five years as part of an omnibus bill known as the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization (CNR).

FMNP was authorized to receive $20 million per year in the most recent CNR, also known as the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. However, as a discretionary program, the actual funding level for FMNP is determined each year by Congress in the annual agricultural appropriations bill. The chart below shows what the program has received in recent years. Future funding cannot be projected because funding levels are determined by Congress one year at a time.

WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program Funding 

Fiscal Year Total Available Funding (in millions) 
2015 $16.5
2016 $18.5
2017 $18.5
2018 $18.5
2019 $18.5

For the most current information on program funding levels, please see NSAC’s Annual Appropriations Chart.  

Authorizing Language

Section 424 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 amends Section 17(m)(9) of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966, to be codified at 42 U.S.C. Section 1786(m)(9).


Last updated in May 2019.