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WIC & Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Programs

Evidence Rating

Some Evidence

Health Factors

Decision Makers

Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs (FMNP) are part of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Senior Nutrition Program. These programs provide participating women, children, and seniors with coupons for fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables that can be redeemed at farmers’ markets and produce stands, or can support shares in community supported agriculture. The federal WIC FMNP benefit ranges from $10 to $30 per year (USDA-FMNP), and the federal Senior FMNP benefit ranges from $20 to $50 per year (USDA-SFMNP); some states supplement these amounts. 

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased access to fruits & vegetables

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Increased fruit & vegetable consumption

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs (FMNPs) improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables, although effects appear limited by the programs’ benefit amounts (, , , Joy 2001). Supporting WIC and Senior FMNPs is a suggested strategy to increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables (CDC-Fruits and vegetables 2011, CDC MMWR-Khan 2009, ). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects and determine ideal benefit amounts.

Participation in WIC FMNP can increase fresh fruit and vegetable consumption by approximately one full serving for low income women (, Joy 2001). Home delivery of Senior FMNP benefits can increase consumption of fruits and vegetables by approximately one full serving and increase the percentage of seniors consuming the recommended 5 or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables (Johnson 2004). In locations with state supplements, WIC and Senior FMNP have also been shown to positively affect attitudes toward fruit and vegetable consumption and amounts consumed (, Herman 2008, Evans-Gates 2005).

Researchers suggest that increasing the federal benefit amount, supplementing it with state funds, or incorporating fruit and vegetable matching incentives could increase the program’s impact (USDA-Fox 2004, ). Including nutrition education, particularly education that is culturally sensitive, geography and age appropriate (), and introducing requirements for coupon redemption can increase consumption of fruits and vegetables (, ). Enhancements such as coordinated promotion and increased collaboration with other state-level agencies can increase use of FMNP benefits (Conrey 2003), and improvements to the process for authorizing vendors, accepting vouchers, and receiving reimbursement can increase the number of participating farmers ().

Transportation to farmers’ markets remains a challenge for FMNP participation, especially among seniors; home delivery of market goods can overcome such challenges (). Not knowing what to buy, limited produce variety, and unfavorable weather conditions can also be barriers to redeeming coupons at farmers’ markets (McDonnell 2014).

An economic analysis of FMNP suggests that the program generates social benefits at a low cost (). WIC and Senior FMNP can also increase earnings for farmers who accept program coupons (, ); in fiscal year 2015, redeemed WIC FMNP coupons generated about $14 million in farmer revenue (USDA-FMNP facts 2016).

Impact on Disparities

Likely to decrease disparities

Implementation Examples

As of FY 2015, agencies in 39 states, 6 tribal governments, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands support the WIC FMNP, and agencies in 43 states, 8 tribal governments, and Washington DC support the Senior FMNP (USDA-FMNP facts 2016, USDA-SFMNP facts 2016). As of 2015, over 20,300 farmers at over 3,750 farmers’ markets, 3,200 roadside stands, and 180 community supported agriculture programs participated in the SFMNP (USDA-SFMNP facts 2016), and nearly 18,000 farmers, 3,400 farmers’ markets and 2,900 roadside stands were authorized to accept WIC FMNP coupons (USDA-FMNP facts 2016).

The CDC highlights Maine as a state that successfully uses the Senior FMNP through a Farm Share to bring fresh produce to seniors, and offers educational tips on cooking, selecting, storing, and preparing fresh produce. In Wisconsin and Rhode Island, culinary schools partner with WIC and SFMNP to offer cooking demonstrations at farmers’ markets (CDC-5 a day).

Implementation Resources

USDA-FMNP - US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). WIC Farmers’ market nutrition program (FMNP).

USDA-SFMNP - United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP).

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

CDC MMWR-Khan 2009 - Khan LK, Sobush K, Keener D, et al. Recommended community strategies and measurements to prevent obesity in the United States. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). 2009;58(RR-07):1-26.

Herman 2008 - Herman DR, Harrison GG, Afifi AA, Jenks E. Effect of a targeted subsidy on intake of fruits and vegetables among low-income women in the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children. American Journal of Public Health. 2008;98(1):98-105.

Anderson 2001* - Anderson JV, Bybee DI, Brown RM, et al. 5 A day fruit and vegetable intervention improves consumption in a low income population. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2001;101(2):195-202.

Conrey 2003 - Conrey EJ, Frongillo EA, Dollahite JS, Griffin MR. Integrated program enhancements increased utilization of farmers’ market nutrition program. Journal of Nutrition. 2003;133(6):1841-4.

ADA-Stang 2010* - Stang J, Bayerl CT. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Child and adolescent nutrition assistance programs. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2010;110(5):791-9.

USDA-Fox 2004 - Fox MK, Hamilton W, Lin BH. Effects of food assistance and nutrition programs on nutrition and health: WIC farmers’ market nutrition program. Washington, DC: Economic Research Service (ERS), US Department of Agriculture (USDA); 2004:3: FANRR-19-3.

CDC-Fruits and vegetables 2011 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Strategies to prevent obesity and other chronic diseases: The CDC guide to strategies to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS); 2011.

Racine 2010* - Racine EF, Smith Vaughn A, Laditka SB. Farmers' market use among African-American women participating in the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2010;110(3):441-6.

Johnson 2004 - Johnson DB, Beaudoin S, Smith LT, Beresford SAA, LoGerfo JP. Increasing fruit and vegetable intake in homebound elders: The Seattle senior farmers' market nutrition pilot program. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2004;1(1):A03.

Joy 2001 - Joy AB, Bunch S, Davis M, Fujii J. USDA program stimulates interest in farmers' markets among low-income women. California Agriculture. 2001;55(3):38-41.

Evans-Gates 2005 - Evans-Gates D. Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among low income pregnant women and young children in the WIC farmers' market nutrition program. Philadelphia: American Public Health Association (APHA) 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition; 2005.

Just 1997* - Just RE, Weninger Q. Economic evaluation of the farmers' market nutrition program. American Journal of Agricultural Economics. 1997;79(3):902-17.

Wilson 2017* - Wilson KO. Community food environments and healthy food access among older adults: A review of the evidence for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP). Social Work in Health Care. 2017;56(4):227-243.

Stallings 2016* - Stallings TL, Gazmararian JA, Goodman M, Kleinbaum D. The Georgia WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program’s influence on fruit and vegetable intake and nutrition knowledge and competencies among urban African American women and children. Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition. 2016;11(1):86-101.

Lieff 2016* - Lieff SA, Bangia D, Baronberg S, Burlett A, Chiasson MA. Evaluation of an educational initiative to promote shopping at farmers’ markets among the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) participants in New York City. Journal of Community Health. 2016.

Saitone 2017* - Saitone TL, McLaughlin PW. Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program redemptions at California farmers’ markets: Making the program work for farmers and participants. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. 2017:1-13.

McDonnell 2014 - McDonnell L, Morris MN, Holland J. WIC participants’ perceived behavioral control, attitudes toward, and factors influencing behavioral intentions to redeeming cash-value vouchers at certified farmers markets. Californian Journal of Health Promotion. 2014;12(2):22-31.

USDA-FMNP facts 2016 - United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) fact sheet. 2016.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

CDC-5 a day - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 5 A day works! Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS); 2005.

USDA-FMNP facts 2016 - United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) fact sheet. 2016.

USDA-SFMNP facts 2016 - United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) fact sheet. 2016.

Date Last Updated

May 26, 2017