DHEC’s Division of WIC Services joined markets across the country to celebrate National Farmers Market Week during the week of August 6-12.
As demand for local food continues to grow, so too have the opportunities for America’s farmers to market fresh food directly to the consumer.
Markets benefit farmers and customers
According to statistics recently released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), farmers markets and farm stands account for roughly $2 billion of the $3 billion that Americans spend annually on farm-direct products. This revenue, in turn, supports the livelihoods of more than 165,000 mostly small and mid-sized farms and ranches.
“Farmers markets play a vital role not just in generating real income for farmers, but in forming healthy, prosperous food systems,” says Jen Cheek, executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “By providing the opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, markets serve as education centers. Farmers are teaching customers about agriculture and sharing recipes and new foods with their neighbors. Markets are making people and communities stronger and healthier.”
Providing access to fresh fruits and veggies
The WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is associated with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, popularly known as WIC. The WIC Program provides supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education at no cost to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding post-partum women, and to infants and children up to 5 years of age who are found to be at nutritional risk.
The WIC FMNP was established by Congress in 1992, to provide fresh, unprepared, locally grown fruits and vegetables to WIC participants, and to expand the awareness, use of, and sales at farmers’ markets. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the program!
During summer months, select public health departments participate in the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. The SC WIC FMNP has 249 authorized farmers. DHEC and the S.C. Department of Agriculture encourage you to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. WIC participants receive checks that may be used for fresh produce at approved local farmers markets and farm stands. Participants also learn how to choose, store, and prepare fresh produce by attending nutrition education classes. WIC Farmers’ Market checks may be used to purchase SC-grown, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
New recipes and farmers markets
Ready to try some delicious new recipes for your farmers market fresh fruits and vegetables?
Searching for a South Carolina farmers market? Click here.