WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program


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

When low-income mothers buy fresh local produce, their children eat healthier and farmers see increased sales. The 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. State agencies authorize farmers, farmers markets, and roadside stands to accept coupons or electronic benefits. State agencies also sign up, educate, and disburse benefits to low-income mothers. Mothers 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, nutritious, unprepared, 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 FMNP. 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

Currently, 36 states administer FMNP. To accept FMNP benefits, individual farmers, farmers markets, and roadside stands must become authorized by state agencies, typically the 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.

The Program in Action

In 2012, FMNP provided fresh produce to more than 1.7 million WIC families, resulting in $14.3 million in income for more than 18,000 small farmers.

FMNP successes:

  • 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.
  • In Washington, 50 percent of interviewed farmers 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.

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.

Program History, Funding, and Farm Bill Changes

Congress created the 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 one year at a time by Congress.

WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program Funding 

Fiscal Year Total Available Funding (in millions) 
2012 $16.5
2013 $15.3
2014 $16.5
2015 $16.5
2016 $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 November 2016.