By: Chuck Dufano, MS, RD, LD, WIC/MCH Coordinator
Farmers’ Market checks are available again this summer to WIC participants (as of this writing). Eligible family members will receive nine checks each worth $3.00 to be redeemed exclusively at the farmers’ market. These checks are offered once in the summer and can only be used to purchase Iowa-grown fruits, vegetables and herbs. Checks can be used starting in June until the end of October to allow families access to different produce throughout the growing season. Visits to the farmers’ markets provide nutritional benefits to WIC families and economic support of Iowa farmers. Unfortunately, many families encounter barriers to using their farmers’ market checks, such as transportation difficulties or market hours not fitting their schedules.
Johnson County WIC distributes information about check usage, a directory of farmers’ market locations throughout Iowa, a seasonal guide and recipes to use fruits/vegetables when issuing the checks. Parent sessions (i.e. nutrition classes) are conducted throughout the summer featuring produce. The Farmers’ Market session covers topics of how to use the checks and selecting/storing produce including a demonstration of preparing a simple recipe. A fruit/vegetable themed book is read during the Toddler Story Time session and a produce-based snack is provided.
Please assist in farmers’ market promotion by encouraging members of the public with which you work to visit the markets and to use their checks if they are enrolled in WIC. Suggest carpooling to the market or friends taking turns babysitting for each other so that one parent can go to the market. Remind people that the markets have fresh, locally grown produce which will provide good nutrition and variety to their diets.