June 28, 2024

Embracing the Season: How Families Can Maximize WIC Benefits at Farmers Markets This Summer

As the warm months of summer unfold, they bring with them an abundance of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. This is the perfect time for families to embrace healthy eating habits by taking advantage of the Women, Infants, and Children Farmers Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP). With a focus on providing nutritious foods to low-income families, the WIC FMNP is a fantastic resource that encourages families to utilize their benefits at local farmers markets. 

“There are so many ways families can use their WIC benefits to shop at farmers markets,” notes Maricruz Sanchez, Senior Manager of Coordinated Access at WithinReach. “Farmers markets have so much to offer, in addition to delicious fresh produce, it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet and support your local community and to do something fun with the family. Staff at WithinReach wants to make sure that families are aware of the benefits of farmers markets and have the information they need to make the most of the summer market experience.” 

What is the WIC  Farmers Market Nutrition Program?  

The WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program is a federally funded nutrition program that supports the health and well-being of low-income pregnant people, new parents, infants, and children up to age five. The WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (also known as WIC FMNP) is run by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and specifically provides additional benefits to WIC participants to purchase fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables from authorized farmers markets and roadside stands throughout the market season, June 1 to October 31, 2024. 

The program’s primary goal is to encourage the consumption of fresh produce, enhance the dietary habits of families, and support local agriculture. During the summer months, families enrolled in WIC can receive vouchers or electronic benefits specifically for use at farmers markets, giving them the opportunity to enjoy the freshest seasonal produce available. 

Why Shop at Farmers Markets?  

Shopping at farmers markets offers a unique and rewarding experience that goes beyond just purchasing groceries. Here are some of the key benefits: 

  1. Freshness and Quality: Produce at farmers markets is often harvested at its peak ripeness, ensuring maximum flavor and nutritional value. Unlike supermarket produce, which may travel long distances and sit in storage, market produce is typically picked just hours before being sold.
  2. Support Local Farmers: By purchasing from farmers markets, families support local farmers and the local economy. This direct-to-consumer model helps farmers receive a fair price for their produce and sustains farming communities.
  3. Seasonal Eating: Farmers markets feature produce that is in season, meaning it’s the best time to enjoy certain fruits and vegetables. Seasonal eating not only tastes better but can also be more nutritious and cost-effective.
  4. Variety and Education: Farmers markets offer a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including some that might not be available in grocery stores. This variety encourages families to try new foods and learn about different types of produce.
  5. Community Engagement: Visiting farmers markets can be a fun family outing that fosters a sense of community. It provides an opportunity to meet the people who grow your food, ask questions about farming practices, and learn about the origins of the produce.

Using WIC Benefits at Farmers Markets 

Using WIC benefits at farmers markets is a straightforward process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help families get started: 

Find a Participating Farmers Market
The first step is to find a farmers’ market that accepts WIC benefits. Locate local farmers markets in Eastern Washington and Western Washington as well as statewide Farm Stores. Local WIC offices can also provide information and resources to help locate these markets. You can also find authorized farmers markets and farm stores in the WICShopper App by clicking the “WIC Stores & Markets” button. 

Receive Your WIC Farmers Market Benefits
WIC participants receive special FMNP electronic benefits in addition to their regular WIC food package which are accessed by a QR Code. The QR code is accessible in the WICShopper App or on participants WIC cards. These benefits are specifically for purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. Benefits are $30 for each WIC participant, with a maximum of $90 per family.  

Plan Your Visit
Before heading to the market, it’s helpful to plan your visit. Check the market’s hours and days of operation and make a list of the fruits and vegetables you want to buy. Having a plan can help ensure you make the most of your benefits and avoid impulse purchases. The WIC FMNP season lasts from June 1 to October 31.  

Shop Smart
When you arrive at the market, take a walk around to see what’s available and compare prices. Talk to the farmers and vendors to learn more about their produce and ask for recommendations. Many farmers are happy to share tips on selecting and preparing their fruits and vegetables. 

Use Your Benefits
To use your WIC benefits, simply present your WIC card to the authorized vendors at the market. They will deduct the appropriate amount from your benefits and provide you with your fresh produce. Some markets may also have special signage or booths indicating where WIC benefits are accepted. 

Store and Prepare Your Produce
Once you’ve purchased your produce, it’s important to store it properly to maintain its freshness. Many farmers markets provide tips on storage and preparation, or you can ask the vendors directly. Incorporate your fresh fruits and vegetables into your meals and snacks to enjoy their full nutritional benefits. 


Happy Summer Marketing!