The Farm to WIC program aims to improve the health and vitality of local communities by providing access to high quality, seasonal produce for low-income families while expanding market opportunities for small and medium-scale local farms. Our partnership with retailers and local farmers has resulted in 340,000 pounds of fresh local produce provided to WIC participants and residents of underserved communities and over $200,000 dollars invested in the local farm economy.
Our Goals Are To:
1) Increase access to high quality, seasonal produce for low-income families
2) Promote the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables through an education and marketing campaign
3) Build a model for local sourcing to neighborhood retail stores
4) Develop new market opportunities for small and mid-sized farmers in the region
The rising rates of childhood obesity are a growing concern especially among low-income families and families of color. The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program provides low-income mothers and children with access to nutritious foods during the vital stages of pregnancy and infant development. It improves health outcomes for mothers and sets the stage for proper child development. WIC recipients are often limited in their ability to purchase nutrient rich fruits and veggies due to limited access to food retail and the high prices of quality produce. The Farm to WIC program offers easy access to fresh local produce at neighborhood stores that cater to WIC recipients and builds a connection to local foods.
Our partner stores carry items designated by WIC guidelines and offer a welcoming environment for families with children. They accept EBT and cash purchases in addition to WIC vouchers, acting as neighborhood grocers in communities with insufficient access to healthy food options. Our partners Fiesta Plaza Nutrition, Mother’s Nutritional Center and Prime Time Nutrition (Nutricion Fundamental) share our mission of providing fresh, locally sourced food at affordable prices. They have been instrumental in piloting the sourcing and distribution of local produce as well as implementing our ‘Eat in Season, What’s Your Reason?’ marketing campaign in flagship stores.
In addition to providing access to fresh local foods, this fun and interactive marketing campaign encourages WIC customers to try our tasty local produce available at the peak of its season. While many considerations, including price, go into making food purchases, we underscore the health and economic value of buying high quality seasonal produce. By buying in season WIC customers get a fresh local product that is full of flavor and dense with nutrients. To highlight this message we provide nutrition information along with recipe suggestions for our products. In addition, we provide kid friendly ‘Farmer Cards’ that celebrate the local farmers and reinforce a connection to local foods.
Buying seasonal produce also means supporting small and mid-scale local farms. Through this program we are able to put federal dollars back into the local economy while increasing access to fresh local foods for WIC recipients and others living in underserved communities as well as featuring seasonal products that meets retail stores’ requirements for quality, quantity and price.
We look forward to building on the success we’ve had with piloting the Farm to WIC program in the Los Angeles area. There are over 640 stores catering to WIC recipients in California that redeem almost half of all WIC vouchers. By expanding our program to new locations we aim to improve easy access to fresh produce in underserved communities and provide greater access to new markets for local farmers.