From Farm To Table: The Use Of Federally-Funded Food Programs At New York City Farmers’ Markets

Issue Reports & Briefs

May 7, 2013

A sobering number of New York City children and families struggle with hunger and obesity.  Many of these families lack resources needed to ensure consistent access to nutritious meals, and live in neighborhoods where there is a dearth of healthy and affordable food retail options.  Federally-funded food programs – such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (“WIC”); the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”); and the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (“FMNP”) – are critical to the food security of these children and families, and, in New York City, can be used to make purchases at many local farmers’ markets.

CCC was interested in learning more about how the ability to use federally-funded food programs in farmers’ markets helped families across New York City access fresh, healthy foods.  To that end, CCC surveyed regional farmers about their experiences with, and opinions of, the use of food programs in New York City’s farmers’ markets.  After analyzing the data collected, CCC found that New York City farmers’ market customers’ use of federally-funded food programs had a positive impact on farmers’ sales in farmers’ markets throughout New York City, especially in, but not limited to, high-poverty neighborhoods. From our surveys, CCC also learned about the barriers to farmers’ participation in all three programs and barriers to program usage at farmers’ market booths.

As a result of these findings, CCC made recommendations to increase the usage of these programs in New York City farmers’ markets, including:

  • New York State should create a universal application form that permits farmers to apply to participate in the WIC Fruit & Vegetable check program and the FMNP at the same time.
  • New York State and City should explore ways to expand the use of SNAP and the WIC Fruit &Vegetable check in new and emerging venues where New York State produce is sold, such as Mobile Markets, Green Carts, and Community Supported Agriculture programs, and should engage in a dialogue with federal decision-makers about the need for this expansion.
  • New York City should expand the Health Bucks program to include a targeted match for WIC Fruit & Vegetable check purchases in farmers’ markets.

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