It’s easy to use WIC checks at the farmers’ market! Most markets have an “info booth” where shoppers can use their credit, debit, and SNAP/EBT cards. The staff at the info booth can help newcomers get oriented to the market, and should know which farmers accept WIC checks. Or, you can simply look around the market and see which farmers have signs/flags that say, “WIC Accepted Here.”
Frequently asked questions:
What is WIC?
A: The Womens, Infants, and Children program is a federally funded program designed to provide specific, nutritious foods to young children and their mothers. (In Maine the program is operated by the Centers for Disease Control, and it is funded by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.) The moms have to go to the WIC clinic periodically to check in. They are given advice about nutrition and other topics, and also receive a book of paper checks that they may use for specific foods like milk, cheese, and produce.
Do all the farmers at a farmers’ market accept WIC checks?
A: No. Farmers have to sign up during the winter and participate in a one-hour training in order to accept WIC. Most markets have at least one or two farmers who participate.
How do I know which farmers accept the checks?
A: They will have either a yellow sign posted or a flag hanging at their tents. The signs and flags say, “WIC ACCEPTED HERE.”
Which checks can I use at a farmers’ market?
A: You can use either the purple “farmers’ market” checks or the green produce checks (also called Cash Value Vouchers). The purple checks expire at the end of October.
The purple checks are for $5. How will I know how much of anything I can buy at the farmers’ market?
A: Farmers who accept WIC will often have items clearly marked so it is easy to see what you can get for $5. If not, the best thing to do is to ask the farmer! They are happy to help shoppers figure out how to maximize their food dollars.
How is WIC different from SNAP at a farmers’ market?
A: WIC is on a farmer-by-farmer basis, whereas SNAP is operated by the whole market. In other words, if a market accepts SNAP/EBT (formerly known as Food Stamps), then all the food vendors at the market will accept SNAP. The WIC program is operated differently, with individual farmers signing up to participate. Shoppers just need to keep an eye out for signs that say “WIC ACCEPTED HERE.”
Can I use green produce checks (Cash Value Vouchers) at the farmers’ market?
A: Yes. Although purples farmers’ market checks can only be used to purchase produce directly from farmers, the green checks may be used at the supermarket or the farmers’ market.
Can I use purple farmers’ market checks any where beside the farmers’ market?
A: Yes! You can use them anywhere an authorized farmer is selling his/her produce, including farm stands and mobile markets.
Can I purchase organic produce with my WIC checks?
A: Yes! Many MOFGA certified organic farmers are WIC authorized, and you can purchase any produce you wish from them.
How do families get WIC farmers’ market checks?
A: They are for women and children who are already enrolled in the WIC program. Some offices distribute the checks directly at the farmers’ market, some distribute them when women come in for their regular appointments, and some distribute them only on certain days. They usually start to be distributed in July, and may only be used through October.
Why are there special WIC checks for farmers’ markets?
A: The purple farmers’ market checks are provided through the USDA’s Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (which is why they are sometimes called FMNP checks). The USDA designed the program not only to increase sales for farmers, but because they know that young families love to have access to fresh, local produce. Produce is an important part of a healthy diet, which is what the WIC program is all about.
How do I find a farmers’ market that accepts WIC?
A: Locate markets in your area using our search page (find it here). WIC will be clearly listed as a “market feature” if there is a farmer there who accepts WIC checks. The Maine CDC also maintains a list of all WIC authorized farms (click here: 2017-WIC authorized farmers).
I’ve heard that some farmers double WIC checks. How does that work?
A: MFFM has a small pilot project currently underway (funded by the Maine Community Foundation and the Broad Reach Fund) in certain rural communities. The participating farmers who are doubling WIC checks this season include:
|Amber’s Best||Machias Farmers’ Market|
|Lamb Cove Farm||Eastport Farmers’ Market|
|Robb Hill Farm||Eastport Farmers’ Market|
|Lil Buddy Farm||Calais Farmers’ Market and Lubec Market|
|Redbird Farm||Farm stand (Harrington)|
|Tide Mill Farm||Farm stand and Lubec Market|
|Folklore Farm||Milbridge Farmers’ Market|
|Hegarty’s Homestead||Calais Farmers’ Market|
|Bark Eater Farm||Houlton Community Market & farm stand|
|Harmony Meadows Farm||Houlton Community Market & farm stand|
|Au Jardin||Madawaska Farmers’ Market|
Farmers: Learn more elsewhere on our site.