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Farmers Help WIC Participants Get Fresh Produce Down in Texas

Young toddlers and children crowded the tents, shuffling and giggling, as they waited for their parents to purchase produce for the family. The Arlington Farmers’ Market was filled with customers who participate in the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) and farmers who were excited to cater to the enormous turn out. Well over 200 families came out in the mid-morning heat of Texas to receive their Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers.

Through the FMNP, WIC participants are able to access locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs that promote the well being and health of themselves and/or their children. Just last year in 2011, 1.9 million WIC participants received FMNP benefits, which, when redeemed, surpassed 16.4 million dollars in total revenue for participating farmers and farmer’s markets.

On hand this day were Ann Salyer-Caldwell, Tarrant County WIC Director, Sam Varela, the FMNP State Director of Texas Department of Agriculture, Kay Dillard, the Director of the Tarrant Area Food Bank, Dorothy “Toni” Savage-Oakford, a community health worker with the Tarrant County Health Department, and Samantha Swain, the local FMNP Coordinator.

Once the participants’ vouchers were processed they began to shop the stands laden with fresh peaches, tomatoes, green bell peppers, squash and a truck filled with watermelons. After checkout, as a result of Ms. Swain’s collaboration with the Tarrant Area Food Bank, participants obtained free infant foods, packaged snacks and other items, which had been made available from the warehouses of the Tarrant Area Food Bank.

Such collaborations are important to ensuring the nutrition of low income women, infants and children.  The Farmers Market Nutrition Program is vital to both the WIC participants and to the participating farmers and farmer’s markets. Farmers get additional customers and WIC participants have more nutritious options to feed themselves and their children.

Being able to witness the FMNP program in action was an eye opening experience for me because I got a small glimpse of the number of people who benefit from USDA’s nutrition programs every day across the nation. As we continue to work to feed families in need, we can be assured that somewhere, in the simmering Texas, heat a family in need is benefiting from the nutrition assistance provided by the Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

2 Responses to “Farmers Help WIC Participants Get Fresh Produce Down in Texas”

  1. Lenora Tooher says:

    I can actually tell via my tastebuds if produce is ‘fresh’. Another option as a change for fresh apple juice on the menu is fresh diced, sliced apples or even plain applesauce. Fiber really makes a difference in the diet for most humans. It’s the way nature presents it to us! Afterall, ‘processing’ does include the process of juicing apples and juicing does reduce the amount of fiber in your diet. Elimination of processed foods/items on your plate can make a positive difference in the pure delight of eating. Thank you FMNP for delighting so many people!:-)

  2. Micheline Hynes says:

    As the Nurtition Manager for Tarrant Area Food Bank, I hear so often from skeptics that “these people” don’t want good, healthy food, but when you take the time to talk to program participants it is clear that just like everyone else, they want what’s best for their families, and they do the best that they can with what they can get.

    Having worked at another FMNP event, I engaged in several conversations with participants while they were in line. So many of them shared how grateful they were to receive fram-fresh produce, how much their children loved eating the fresh peaches and watermelon, and how much it meant to them to be able to provide good food to their families.

    After working an event, it was easy to see that people who were willing to wait in line for an hour or more in the legendary Texas heat to get some fresh food are people that really desire to provide the best they can for their families. It was an honor to serve them.

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