By Karen Kinney & Colleen Donovan
The Farmers Market Nutrition Program or “FMNP” helps mothers buy fruits, vegetables, and cut herbs at farmers markets through the Women, Infants and Children or “WIC FMNP” program and helps low-income seniors shop for produce and honey through the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program or “Senior FMNP.”
In 2016, WIC clients received a $20 booklet per client (a mother and/or child over 12 months old). Seniors received one booklet with ten $4 checks totaling $40.
Typically, FMNP checks are distributed from June to September and must be used at authorized farmers markets by October 31. Checks are different colors to so they don’t get mixed up.
The rules for FMNP and funding may change from one year to the next. Please check the WSFMA website for the latest information or talk to the Washington State Department of Health representative at the WSFMA’s annual conference.
Authorized Farmers Markets & Farmers
FMNP is a partnership between market managers and the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). DOH authorizes growers, farmers markets, and farm stores to accept FMNP checks for a two year period. Both the farmers market and the farm vendor need to be approved based on eligibility rules. Farmers markets need at least five produce farmers. Farmers must grow fruits and vegetables. If your market is not currently participating in FMNP and is interested, please contact Katherine Flores or email FMNPTeam@doh.wa.gov.
Key Dates for 2016
April 1: Application for returning growers due to DOH
May 1: Application for new markets due to DOH
June 1: FMNP season starts
July 1: Application for new growers due to DOH
October 31: Last day to accept FMNP checks
November 15: Last day to deposit FMNP checks
FMNP information from the Department of Health
The DOH’s website has a section dedicated to FMNP resources, including state and local contacts, market and grower applications, nutrition information, FAQs and promotional materials in multiple languages. There is also a “FMNP Information Manual” available.
The amount of the FMNP checks may seem small. However, the cumulative sales add up. According to the DOH, in 2014, 126 Washington farmers markets participated in FMNP and had combined sales of $1,056,472 (WIC and Senior). In addition to increasing market sales and supporting farmers, participating in the FMNP program is a great community connection by promoting health and nutrition among low income mothers, children and seniors.
The “Accepted Here! Food Access Programs at Washington State Farmers Markets” report summarizes FMNP and SNAP trends from 2010 to 2014. In addition, DOH has annual data available by county on the “WIC Annual Summary Data.”
In Washington State, the WIC FMNP started in 1992. It is administered by the Department of Health and funded through the federal “Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act.” WIC FMNP primarily serves pregnant and breastfeeding women and children from age 1 to 5 who are enrolled in the WIC Program. WIC participants meet regularly with WIC staff to improve their nutrition and health.
The Senior FMNP is part of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and serves low-income seniors (over 60) and is funded by the Farm Bill.
Farmers Market Nutrition Program Overview
2016 FMNP Market Manager Training by K. Flores (DOH)
(downloadable PDF of PowerPoint presentation at WSFMA conference)