WIC benefits cover fresh farmer's market finds - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

WIC benefits cover fresh farmer's market finds

(Source: Raycom Media) (Source: Raycom Media)

The Women's, Infants and Children's program, or WIC, is a nutrition program that uses federal dollars.

What participants may not know is they can get fresh fruits and vegetables at their county farmers market. 

Jessie Simmons, the Alabama Department of Public Health's Area Two Nutrition Director said soon people who are WIC participants will have access to those fresh foods.

"And that really does give our participants more access to fresh fruits and vegetables even more so than they get with their regular benefits," said Simmons.

So how does it work?

"The Farmers Market Authority receives Farmers Market Booklets to give to our WIC participants in Madison, Morgan and Lawrence Counties in this area. Pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children over one are eligible to receive the farmer's market booklets," said Simmons.

She said this is a win-win program.

"It also helps the farmers get more revenue," said Simmons.

When you visit your local county's farmer's market you're going to run the gamut.  You're going come up with zucchini, squash, potatoes and onions.  Each which plays an important part when it comes to the development of a young child.

"The fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market, they were picked a day ago, maybe two days ago, canned fruits and vegetables were picked could have been months ago," said Simmons. "And they go through a processing whereas the fresh fruits and vegetables are not processed."

Simmons said higher nutrients are important because the young children are quickly developing.

"From the time they start eating solids to the time they're 5-years-old is a very important stage of development. It's important that they function at their highest capability,"said Simmons.

Simmons said specific organs like the brain, heart and eyes are all maturing at this time.  

The WIC program covers food, health care referrals and nutrition education to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women. It also covers infants and children up to age -5-who are found to be at nutritional risk.

The program begins June 1.

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