Effect of a Targeted Subsidy on Intake of Fruits and Vegetables Among Low-Income Women in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children by Dena R. Herman, PhD, MPH, RD, Gail G. Harrison, PhD, Abdelmonem A. Afifi, PhD, and Eloise Jenks, MEd, RD
The results emphasized that those who are given the opportunity to eat fresh fruits and vegetables will most likely do so. People with low funds were just not able to afford to eat well. The WIC (women, infants and children) program is doing a great deal to provide young mothers with adequate meals and nutrition. WIC now allows food coupons to be used at grocery stores and farmer’s markets whereas before they only covered carrots and juices. Since WIC has provided more fresh fruit and vegetable options, their members have responded well by consuming more servings per day on average. This is a particularly positive progression with the program because everyone should have access to fresh, local food.
It is interesting that the researchers who conducted this study mentioned there were multiple comments from participants stating their preference in where to buy fresh food:
“Although we do not have any formal quantitative data to substantiate reasons for farmers’ market participants having higher fruit and vegetable consumption than super- market participants, we do have individual reports that farmers’ market participants thought produce at their site was fresher and of higher quality than at the supermarket. Participants who purchased their produce at the farmers’ market also mentioned enjoying the pleasant 'community experience' of meeting friends while shopping and interacting directly with growers.”
The community experience and access to super fresh produce is better than any grocery store. Our lives revolve around food. By shopping directly from the farmer’s market with people from our community, we stay connected and grounded. It gives us something to look forward to every week and in a way, our quality of life improves.
Not only does shopping at farmer’s markets benefit the consumer, but it also increases revenue for small farms. Small farms struggle to make ends meet and they need our support. By encouraging more families to shop at the markets, we are improving our economy and food system.
Last year 18,245 farmers, 3,647 farmers' markets and 2,772 roadside stands were authorized to accept FMNP coupons. Coupons redeemed through the FMNP resulted in over $15.7 million in revenue to farmers for fiscal year 2010.
This large increase in profit is very reassuring! Local, seasonal produce is so important and everyone in the community should be able to enjoy it.