May 14, 2012

Farmers market benefit programs explained

In my job, I spend a good part of the spring tracking down all the farmers markets in the Adirondack region.

The rising popularity of farmers markets — up nearly 25 percent over 2011 — demands that we keep our information current and accessible. There are plenty of places to find local, fresh food this year.

As I compile the information about the markets I have to pay special attention to documenting benefit programs in which the markets may participate. There are currently three types: Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) checks, Women, Infants and Children Vegetables and Fruits Check Program (WIC VF), and Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. Because these three excellent programs are often under used at the farmers markets, I wanted to clarify them and encourage anyone who qualifies to make the most of the benefits.

The FMNP program has been in use at the markets for the longest period of time. It 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".

These benefits are not to be confused with the WIC VF checks, which I will cover later in this column; these are part of a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program within WIC. Families who qualify for and participate in the WIC program are issued a packet of checks to use throughout the season specified for use to purchase local produce. New York State has nearly 4 million dollars in grant funds allocated towards FMNP checks — the largest allocation in the country.

Senior citizens may also be issued packets of FMNP checks. To determine if they are eligible to receive these checks, seniors should contact their local Office for the Aging.

These checks are a wonderful opportunity to increase the purchase and consumption of fresh, local food in our region. In 2011, 77 percent of the senior checks were redeemed in the tri-county area, but only 50 percent of those isseud to WIC recipients. If you are a recipient of these benefits, be sure to get to your farmers market and collect your produce.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg A monastery in the Hebrides, after 1,000 years

    Before Father Seraphim Aldea can build a monastery on Scotland's Mull Island, he needs to have a working septic system, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tobias_Sue_012914.jpg Old movies offer more than entertaining TV

    Columnist Susan Tobias and her husband, Toby, are reminded of simple childhood memories while watching an old black-and-white movie.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time