The Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is administered by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA). It is a federally funded program which provides low-income women, infants & children and seniors with checks that can be exchanged for eligible foods at authorized farmers’ markets and roadside stands.
MDA implements both portions of FMNP – the Women, Infants, and Children Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP) and the Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP). Only 37 states operate both programs, while an additional 6 states have only the SFMNP and 2 municipalities operate only WIC FMNP.
The WIC FMNP was established to provide fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits and vegetables to Women, Infants and Children (WIC) participants, and to expand the awareness, use of and sales at farmers’ markets. It was piloted in Maryland in the early 1990’s, and became a federal program in 1992.
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program aims to provide fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, cut herbs, and honey from farmers’ markets and roadside stands to low-income seniors, and increase the consumption of agricultural commodities by expanding, developing, or aiding in the development and expansion of domestic farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs. It was established as a federal program in 2000.
In Maryland, MDA authorizes farmers to participate in the program, which means that participants may redeem their checks with authorized farmers at any farmers market or the authorized farmer’s on-farm stand. The full listing of these markets can be found on Maryland’s Best (select the category “Farmers Market Nutrition Program” under the “Find Me Local” tab.
Each year, approximately $500,000 goes directly to farmers who are producing what they sell at Maryland farmers markets through the FMNP program. There are over 145,000 WIC participants and more than 6,000 Seniors who receive these benefits to spend on fresh fruits, vegetables, and cut herbs at Maryland farmers markets.
For more information on this program, see the MDA site here: MDA FMNP Information.