WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, Part 2

This morning I received a response to my inquiry about the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) from State WIC Director, Rhonda Buntrock.  Her response was that the State has not pursued the program “[D]ue to our very short growing season and the limited areas that could benefit from the program.”

I went back to the WIC FMNP FAQ and found that there are a number of states with as short (at least in some, if not all areas), or shorter growing seasons than ours participating in the program: Iowa, Minnesota, Alaska, Montana, Wisconsin, Michigan. I wrote back indicating this (politely, nicely), and also asking if there was a critical mass of markets, customers, or WIC recipients that would make the program more feasible.

My next project is to do a little more quick research on the number of WIC participants in and around areas where farmers markets operate.  I’m thinking instead of badgering Rhonda with that information, I’ll pass it on to my District 17 Senator Ben Nesselhuf and see what he can do with it.

Do give a call or e-mail to the State WIC office and/or your representatives in Pierre asking that we implement this program in South Dakota.  Rhonda Buntrock’s e-mail is rhonda.buntrock@state.sd.us

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6 responses

  1. Hah! I’ve actually mentioned this at the Vermillion WIC office before because they have farmer’s market vouchers in CA where I’m from. The ladies were like “wouldn’t that be nice”. Well, from my end, I don’t use a lot of what WIC currently offers. No one in my house drinks juice. We eat fruit. Allergies run in my husband’s family so no peanut butter for a few more years. My daughter is allergic to milk, so no real use for the cheese and milk. We only use WIC for formula for both kids (one soy, one normal) and the cereal. With the price of produce, I’d be THRILLED if WIC began offering vouchers for fresh produce, whether farmer’s market or the regular store even.

  2. Claire–

    Call Rhonda and let her know you’re interested! I have a feeling there are a lot of people who’d love to use this program if they knew about it and it was offered. Considering Minnesota participates, I don’t think the short season is a good reason not to do it.

    The number of farmers markets might be a barrier, but I’m guessing an analysis of markets and the number of WIC recipients in those market areas might show that it could be a great benefit to WIC recipients, farmers, and the local economy.

    I hear you about the offerings–I was on WIC both here in Vermillion and on the Rosebud Reservation (at different times, of course). The offerings on the Rosebud were way better than they were here.

    –re.

  3. I don’t know anything about your program but if a concern is about the short growing season, you might point out that a growing number of folks are using various techniques to extend their growing season. We grow all year near Chicago and sell at a local winter market. Cheers, Tim

    • Great idea! It does sound like they’re willing to try despite the short growing season–if Minnesota can do it, we should be able to as well!
      –re.

    • Because we have been working on getting EBT/food stamps accepted at our market, we have not been focusing on this issue. However, one of our Board members, who is a county health nurse, tells us that WIC benefits are going to be transferred to EBT cards, so this might be a pursuable project for next season!

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