WIC Gives Farmers Market Vouchers

Tracy Eddy, The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.

Posted July18, 2010

The fresh strawberries, cucumbers and carrots sold at the Morgantown Farmers Market will be available to those who participate in Mononogalia County's Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program -- at no cost -- starting this weekend.

On Saturday, the Monongalia County Health Department will hand out vouchers to the families who participate in the supplemental nutrition program, so they can purchase fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs.

The farmers market is held at the lot on the corner of Fayette and Spruce streets.

Jason Nguyen, a WIC nutritionist, said the vouchers would be given out on a first-come, firstserved basis. The county's WIC program has $2,750 available to give out to all of its participants.

The vouchers should serve about 100 families, Nguyen estimated.

Each participant will be given four vouchers worth $5 each, he said. For example, if a family has three children, each of the children will be given $20 in vouchers -- a total of $60.

WIC serves pregnant, breastfeeding or postpartum women, he said, as well as infants and children up to 5 years old.

Mon County's WIC program has about 1,600 participants, he said.

The vouchers don't all have to be spent at one vendor's stand, Nguyen said, and they don't have to all be spent in one day -- they can be used throughout the season.

Nguyen said the vouchers are only available to people who already participate in the county's WIC program. People requesting vouchers will be asked to show their WIC identification folders, he said.

Local far mer Kathy Evans said the partnership between WIC programs and local farmers markets is about making fresh produce available to people who might not usually have access to it.

"Fresh produce is much, much better than the processed stuff," Evans said. "And farmers markets have the freshest produce."

Much of the food sold at the Morgantown Farmers Market is harvested the day before, or, in some cases, earlier the same day.

Nguyen said the vouchers are only good for fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, and can't be used to purchase meat, eggs, honey or flowers.

The county's WIC program has given out vouchers for the farmers market for four years.

Evans said there are typically 29 to 35 vendors at the farmers market, and, on an average Saturday, about 1,200 people attend.

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Copyright © 2010, The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

 
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