Q: At my local farmers market I saw a sign that said the vendor accepted WIC coupons. When I asked what that meant he said it meant coupons from women and babies. What?!
A: He is right. It is meant for women and babies, but there is a bit more to it. The program about which the vendor was speaking is actually the Farmers Market Nutritional Program (FMNP) and that is a part of the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Program.
WIC was federally established in the 1970s to help protect the health of low-income women (pregnant, post partum, or breastfeeding), infants (up to one year old), and children (up to 5 years old). The program provides food supplements, nutritional education, and screens for and refers to other government services. It is not a long-term enrollment program, but it has made a difference in billions of women and babies!
Part of the program involves providing food vouchers for participants- cereal, eggs, cheese, milk, beans, juice, etc. In an effort to introduce more fresh fruits and vegetables into the diets of the participants, FMNP was established in 1992. FMNP provides additional coupons to participants to purchase locally produced fruits and vegetables. Market vendors display signage to indicate that they are set up to process the WIC/FMNP vouchers. This is the type of sign you saw at your local market.
So yes, it is for women and babies, but we all benefit. These programs have helped steer participants toward healthier lives and sometimes diminish the need for more government support.
And getting more people to the local farmers market helps the farmers too!