The Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) are programs that provide fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs from Pennsylvania farmers’ markets to WIC participants and eligible seniors. These programs were established in 1993, and since then, have been geared toward expanding their awareness and use of markets. This exciting initiative happens every year between June 1 through November 30.
Recipients are provided with a list of farmers and farmers’ markets. At these designated locations they are able to use the FMNP checks that are given to them as part of the program. These checks are redeemed for fresh fruits and vegetables that are exclusively grown locally in Pennsylvania. Processed foods such as jams, honey, nuts, ciders, baked goods, as well as tropical citrus fruits, are not eligible to purchase within the program. This year each eligible participant will receive $4-6 checks to redeem at farmer’s markets and roadside stands, while seniors will receive check amounts of $24-50.
The benefits of this program here in Pennsylvania come with understanding the value of being able to provide fresh local produce to our community members while supporting our local agricultural economy. The opportunity to connect people to local food sources creates a deeper connection to other members of the community. Creating a food environment where healthy choices are easy and accessible choice. In the meantime, know that creating nutritious meals can be more attainable than one might think. Once obtaining your local FMNP produce there are ways to incorporate cheap basics to build meals. Building up your pantry with dried herbs, grains, canned or dried beans, cooking oils, canned meat and/or fish, stock, peanut butter, and pasta sauce is all budget-friendly staples that can mix and match with any number of foods for endless meals, creating a variety of flavors. Being flexible while you are cooking and avoiding strict meals and methods help you become more attuned to the food you are creating and eating. Be open to a variety of substitutions, you might have received certain produce from the farmer’s market that wasn’t used in a recipe you like, get experimental and try to make a dish with your own personal touch to it based on what you have.
One of our main objectives as part of the Penn State College of Medicine Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) team is to promote overall well-being and prosperity in Berks and Lebanon counties. In our partnership with Lebanon Family Health Services, we’ve implemented a weekly “grab bag” program by building a partnership with a local farmer so participants could easily and conveniently redeem their vouchers. The grab bags offer a variety of FMNP-approved produce for $4 and
$6 grab bags at the WIC Office at Lebanon Family Health Services. Each grab bag includes healthy recipes that included the produce sold at LFHS for participants.
Contact your local WIC agency with any questions regarding FMNP. For seniors, contact your local senior FMNP agency for additional information regarding how to apply for vouchers. In Lebanon County, below are the locations where you can pick up your vouchers. You can find locations of where to use your FMNP/SFMNP checks through the Department of Agriculture website by clicking the link here with an interactive map: PAMeals.
Some markets mentioned on the site in Lebanon include:
- Chestnut St Community Center
- Risser Marvel Farmers Market
- Farmstead Farmers Market
For Senior Checks: WIC Office at Lebanon Family Health Services
Area Office of Aging 615 Cumberland Street #2 710 Maple Street #2 Lebanon, PA 17042
Lebanon, PA 17046 (717) 273-6940
(717) 273-9262 https://lebanonfamilyhealth.org